Safety first ‘crucial’ at Rye boat ramp

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A LACK of regular maintenance is the “crucial safety issue” at the Rye boat ramp, according to Rye Community Group Alliance, which opposes the contentious fourth ramp.

Chair Mechelle Cheers said her group was angry that Mornington Peninsula Shire had backed plans to develop a fourth ramp when it was “rarely” needed.

The cost of the works is about $1.2 million, with the shire receiving $588,000 from Ports Minister Luke Donnellan, on condition a fourth boat ramp is built. No additional car parking is planned.

A council report said the project would “alleviate the on-land and on-water congestion experienced at the Rye boat ramp during summer”.

Shire planners, who won a Victorian Coastal Council Award for the Rye Recreational Boating Precinct Plan, said it would involve building a new jetty, a fourth boat ramp, replacing existing boat ramps, and realigning the existing and new reversing lane. A planning permit application is currently being advertised.

The works are a waste of money, the alliance says. “People slip on the algae or, because of the lack of regular dredging, they ground their boats,” Ms Cheers said.

“That’s a shire issue –  not a case for expansion.

“And, for those concerned about getting their boats back in a hurry, it’s not an issue. No one goes out in a southerly or a northerly. We are not Western Port.”

Ms Cheers said the Rye boating zone “does not have a bad safety record” with only one accident recorded on Maritime Safety Victoria’s database.

“You can surely understand why many of us are shaking our heads in disbelief at what was said about safety issues,” she said.

“Where did the information that Rye was dangerous come from?”

Rye Community Group Alliance members tabled a petition at the planning meeting showing 1378 signatures against the boat ramp expansion plans as opposed to 362 in favour.

Cr David Gill, who spoke in favour of the new ramp, later cited “boat-rage” and the potential for slipping over to be among many existing ramp safety concerns. “It is dangerous to walk on,” he said.

“There are also parking and reversing issues – safety is only one element.”

Cr Gill – who’s “not a boatie” – said many safety issues went unreported to police or the maritime safety authorities. “We listened to anecdotal evidence from members of the public and read reports from officers before making our decision”, he said.

“The planners showed the need for the new boat ramp. We believe there is a growing and pressing need for more boating facilities in the shire.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 15 August 2017

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