Ballina jet boat rescue HQ could be forced to move
THE Ballina Jet Boat Surf Rescue service could be forced to move its base if a major upgrade to the Martin St boat harbour precinct goes ahead, with the potential to affect response times and put lives at risk.
Under the draft masterplans for the precinct drawn up by consultants on behalf of Ballina Shire Council, two of the three options being put forward would see the jet boat kicked out of its current headquarters.
Treasurer of the service, Elton Cummings, said time was crucial in marine rescues, and the jet boat needed to have its base as close to the mouth of the Richmond River as possible.
"Someone could lie bleeding on a boat and that boat could sink in a matter of minutes," he said.
He said the current site was ideal as it was central to the CBD where many of the volunteer lifesavers worked, and it was close to the Ballina Police Station and not far from the Ambulance Station and Ballina District Hospital.
He said the jet boat was negotiating with the consultants to find another site for a base, which would have to be the same distance to the river mouth, in case council decided to go ahead with a major upgrade to the precinct.
Ballina Shire Council engaged consultants GeoLINK, along with ENV Solutions and Red Belly Landscape Architecture + Urban Design, to draw up the draft masterplans for the precinct, which also includes the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.
Meanwhile, Dick Greaves, president of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, said the museum's preference was Option 2, which he said would complement the museum.
Option 1 would see a few changes to the area, with minor modifications to the harbour area, with an estimated cost of $2m to $3m.
Option 2, costing $6.5m to $7.5m, would see the removal of existing boat sheds, changes to the layout of the harbour, the creation of a plaza area, with the potential for a takeaway shop and the creation of a new riverfront entrance and foyer to the naval museum.
Option 3 ($22m to $24m) would see the demolition of the museum building to create a multi-storey "multi-purpose" complex, with the museum on the ground floor, and major changes to the layout of the harbour.