Coast guard is moving up
A RESTAURANT is to be included in the new Ballina coast guard tower if plans for the exciting building on North Wall are approved.
Ballina Shire Council’s finance committee last week approved $1.6 million in the 2011/12 financial year to construct the new tower.
A further $30,000 has been allocated this financial year to prepare and lodge the development application.
But these funding commitments must first be formally adopted at next week’s full council meeting.
The total cost of the tower is about $1.7 million.
The rest of the money is being raised by the Ballina Flotilla of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard.
So far they have raised more than $80,000 and theoverall target is $150,000.
Commander Norm Lannoy said a new tower was desperately needed.
He said the existing tower was more than 30 years old.
It is on a six-degree lean and there are no toilets for the volunteers who staff the tower from 5am to 5pm each day. There is also no air-conditioning.
“We launched the appeal for a new tower about five or six years ago,” Cmdr Lannoy said.
“The people of Ballina have been very supportive. They have been pretty marvellous.
“So the council’s support is a major step forward – we are very pleased.
“This will be the best coast guard tower in NSW. For Ballina to have something like this will be great.
“It will attract a lot of people here. It will be like a magnet.”
Coast guard members hope that once the new tower is built it will be manned full-time. It will include a car port, toilets, cafe/restaurant, emergency operations centre and communications tower.
Cmdr Lannoy said the preferred design was ‘beautiful’ and based on the Fibonacci spiral, which is found innature in shells and the curves of waves.
Even though the tower will be built on land owned by the NSW Department of Lands, the council said it will still contribute to the project because it is a ‘key part of the existing maritime infrastructure within the shire’.
General manager Paul Hickey will investigate the possibility of using the restaurant’s future lease payments to offset the council’s capital cost.
Expressions of interest will be also sought from potential restaurant owners as part of planning for the tower.
Cr Sue Meehan said having a new coast guard tower would be a great asset for the whole community.
“I think it’s great the council is supporting something the people who volunteer in the tower have worked really hard towards,” she said.
“They provide a wonderful service for the boaties in Ballina. It’s very important.
“I think that, in the end, we will get something that’s good for the entire community.
“This tower is going tobecome an attraction initself.”
Ms Meehan admitted that $1.6 million was ‘a lot of money’ for the council to invest, but she said it would be worth it.
“It’s a long-term structure for our community that we will all benefit from,” she said.
“We have to plan for the future of this shire.
“We’re investing this money, but these guys (the coast guard volunteers) do their work for free.
"You have to balance it out. Our community just can’t live without their services.”