Corks pop for yacht club 21-year lease

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Prime position: Mornington Yacht Club has won a new 21-year lease from Mornington Peninsula Shire, which manages Crown land on behalf of the state government. Picture: Yanni

Prime position: Mornington Yacht Club has won a new 21-year lease from Mornington Peninsula Shire, which manages Crown land on behalf of the state government. Picture: Yanni

IT’S been a nervous few months for Mornington Yacht Club members but champagne corks are popping following the signing of a new 21-year lease with the shire council for the club’s prime spot on the harbour.

The nervousness came after Mornington Environment Association (MEA) opposed the proposed lease in April, and Mornington Peninsula Shire was forced to hold a hearing in June so MEA members could make submissions. Crs Hugh Fraser and Andrew Dixon heard submissions.

Shire officers then had to fend off criticisms as well as answer MEA concerns.

Councillors approved the lease last Monday. The club will pay the shire $45,000 a year plus half the $13,000 it gets from Telstra for mobile phone tower rental.

The lease is for 5978 square metres and includes the clubhouse, storage yard and slipway as well as The Rocks restaurant, which occupies part of the clubhouse and is sub-let by the club. The most recent rent for The Rocks was almost $38,000 a year. The News understands a new amount is being negotiated.

Late last week yacht club CEO Rod Austin told The News the club was “really pleased” and “we can now get on with growing our club [and] improving the facilities for both our members and the community”.

Earlier the club told its members a big thank you was due to club secretary Simon Purcell for his “for hard work over the last year or so”.

Commodore Graeme Alexander said the future for MYC was “looking very positive”.

Environment association president Jan Oliver told The News the annual rent was too cheap for “the most valuable property in Mornington”.

She was critical of the shire, which refused to provide the club’s financial statements to prove its viability.

In a report to the council, shire officer Greg Collins stated that “in accordance with Australian Securities and Investment Commission requirements, MYC was not required to make available annual financial reports to anyone other than ASIC and MYC members”.

Ms Oliver said a shire officer had tried to get MEA members to withdraw their objections earlier in the year.

MEA was unhappy it had not been told about the club wanting to renew its lease, given that MEA was a member of the Mornington harbour precinct working group as was the yacht club.

The working group was assembled after the shire council in 2012 rejected plans by the yacht club to build a marina in the harbour and a wave wall near the end of the pier to protect the harbour from big northerly blows, which have twice devastated the fleet in the past 30 years.

Other MEA concerns included inappropriate work being done in the yard, noise, rubbish, blocking of a public footpath in front of the club, and lack of an environment management plan.

Mr Collins stated the proposed rent had been calculated by a valuer considering “similar facilities such as The Baths Restaurant in Sorrento, Parsons Marina Williamstown, and Royal Brighton Yacht Club”.

The council, led by Crs David Gibb and Antonella Celi (southern peninsula councillors), approved the lease with the rent subject to annual reviews “to CPI” and “reviewed to market every three years”. Cr Anne Shaw had earlier declared a conflict of interest and left the council chamber.

Council minutes stated that “her husband’s business supplies the sub-lease”.

The club will be responsible for all maintenance, and outgoings including utilities, public liability insurance, fire services property levy, and building and contents insurances.

The yacht club site is owned by the Crown, or government, through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (the new DEPI). The shire manages the land for the government.

First published in the Mornington News – 1 September 2015

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