The Coast Guard Tower at Ballina in 2010.
The Coast Guard Tower at Ballina in 2010. Doug Eaton

Council unclear on tower funding

PLANS to build a new, state-of-the-art tower for Marine Rescue Ballina could soon receive much-needed financial support from the State Government.

At its December facilities committee meeting, Ballina Shire Council listed the $1.7 million redevelopment of the Marine Rescue tower as an item that could be deferred or deleted from the council's works program in order to pay for other major infrastructure projects.

Notes from the meeting say "there remain concerns as to whether this building should be largely funded by the council as it is a service overseen by the NSW State Government."

The meeting concluded with a recommendation the council seek funding through North Coast Mini- ster and Ballina MP Don Page.

But Ballina Shire Council acting general manager John Truman said the council had confirmed the project as one of its short-to-mid-term infrastructure priorities.

"In addition to council seeking State Government assistance, the council has a forward plan for its infrastructure priorities and the next step for this project is for Council's finance committee to continue the review process so that the prioritised projects can be formally allocated funds at the appropriate time."

The existing tower is more than 30 years old and has no air-conditioning or toilets.

Marine Rescue volunteers have been appealing for it to be replaced for more than five years.

Previous redevelopment plans have included a carport, toilets, cafe/restaurant, emergency operations centre and communications tower.

Commander Norm Lannoy said no matter where the funding came from, it was important to get the job started.

"The existing tower is on a six-degree lean, but more importantly there are no toilets and this base operates 24-seven," he said.

"There are no facilities for people to stay at night and it's too dangerous for our female members to go outside to use the public toilets in the middle of the night."

Ballina MP Don Page said the council would need to go through a formal application process to seek state funds for the project.

"I haven't received an application but it's a good project and I think that the state government would be keen to help in any way that it can," Mr Page said.

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