Huge relief for marine rescue volunteers at tower funding
UPDATE 3.29pm: Ballina Marine Rescue Tower Commander John Donoghue, who has been involved in the volunteer organisation since 1998, said he was finding it hard to comprehend the good news.
"I've been involved since the very early days and that's probably why I'm finding it hard to comprehend that it's finally going to happen," he said.
"My members when they find out… they'll be over the moon."
Mr Donoghue said it would be a huge relief for volunteers who have been working in "testing" conditions since the "leaning" tower was declared unsafe and closed.
"Up until now, we couldn't tell what vessels were calling up and we'd have to walk outside to look at the bar," he said.
"It's been very demoralising as far as members are concerned."
Mr Donoghue said the new tower would likely attract new volunteers.
"With the old building you couldn't get people to volunteer going up the steps but now I'm sure that it will increase volunteers because it will be such a nice environment to work in," he said.
"When it happens we have to thank the community and the council and the local members because without the community behind us it would have never happened.
"The community support has been unbelievable.
"It just makes you feel good that we'll finally be able to do what they expect of us."
UPDATE 2.57pm: It's a win Ballina mayor David Wright said he has been working towards for 16 years.
"I've honestly been floating off the ground since this morning's call but I didn't want to do anything until it was official," he said.
"I was verbally told but until you see these things in writing..."
Cr Wright said the council was now in a position to put out a tender for the construction of the tower.
He said he first made the promise to work towards a new tower at a Marine Rescue meeting when he was mayor in 1999 and the tower had first started to lift.
"It's a building that will serve the purpose, not only of Marine Rescue, but of water protection and of our shark watch," he said.
"With the dredging of the bar and having a marine rescue tower there it will mean that Ballina port is virtually open for business."
INITIAL REPORT: Construction for the new Ballina Marine Rescue Tower can commence immediately following a funding announcement from Ballina MP Tamara Smith.
Ms Smith's office has confirmed the State Government will commit $215,000 and a further $200,000 will be allocated from Ms Smith's community building partnership program.
Background: Ballina's leaning tower
More details to follow.