A COMMUNITY “drop-in session” will be held to brief Rye residents on the $1.2 million boat ramp upgrade about to start this month.
This follows Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s acceptance of a tender to refurbish and widen the three existing lanes, add an extra lane, add a 46 metre-long jetty on the east side of the ramps, realign and widened reversing lanes, install lighting, and dredge sand from the area around the new jetty.
Work will start this month and is expected to be completed by March next year – which includes a break over summer.
The Rye Recreational Boating Precinct Plan, adopted by the council in 2013, pushed for an upgrade of the boat ramp to better perform its function as a regional boat launching facility.
Shire infrastructure manager Christopher Lyne told the council’s 24 July meeting that the upgrade would add a fourth lane to the existing boat ramps as well as new moorings, realigned parking bays, and improved lighting.
At the meeting, Mr Lyne said the shire had received “positive majority feedback” on the Rye Recreational Boating Precinct Plan through a “comprehensive community engagement process”. He said the plan had gone on to win the Victorian Coastal Council Award for Excellence in Planning and Management.
But not everyone is happy with the plans to refurbish the launch ramps and add a jetty thereby increasing the number of boats – and especially jet skis – on southern peninsula beaches.
Long-term opponent Rye Community Group Alliance Chair Mechelle Cheers has urged the Premier Daniel Andrews to ban jet skis from swimming areas.
Ms Cheers has told to the premier in a letter that there is a “huge jet-ski problem with 15 jet skis to every boat” at Rye and added that 4500 people on the southern peninsula had signed a petition to “ban jet skis between Rye and Point Nepean”.
“The jet ski and boat facility expansion now going ahead will exacerbate that problem,” she said. “It will also place it nearer to divers and other passive water users.
“As council supported the expansion against community opposition, we believe it has a duty of care to Rye people and visitors. No one wants an accident or fatality.”
Her concerns are in line with a later push by the shire to have Maritime Safety Victoria and Parks Victoria officers increase surveillance, patrolling and enforcement of personal water craft along bay beaches.
The shire will ask for a review of the existing boat and swimming zones along the beaches and wants on-the-spot fines for boat owners found too close to wildlife.
“While the council is unable to enforce compliance within boating and swimming zones, we are determined to ensure the [authorities] hear the shire’s and community’s concerns,” the mayor Cr Bryan Payne said.
Ms Cheers’ letter urges the premier to ban jet skis from beaches east of Rye pier and west of the launching ramp from December to the end of January and on the Easter and Labour Day long weekends. It also seeks to have jet skis banned from the marine sanctuary at Point Nepean National Park and within 500 metres of beaches, and a 50-metre exclusion zone around Rye, Sorrento and Portsea piers to protect divers/snorkelers, biodiversity and marine habitat.
The shire’s “drop-in session” will be held 4-6pm, Thursday 16 August at the Rye Hotel, Blue Waters room, 2415 Point Nepean Road.