Whyalla's embattled jetty was once again the subject of intense discussion, this time at the Whyalla City Council meeting held on Monday, March 21.
At the end of a long debate, all councillors voted in a favor of an amended motion to have a report submitted to the council regarding the cost of building a new jetty as opposed to re-furbishing the old structure.
Councillor Tom Antonio was enthusiastic about the idea of a new jetty, and proposed that the council petition the state government for funding to help lower the cost to the community.
“Before we throw any more money at this jetty, I think we should have a look at what it would cost to get a new one – we should go to the state government and explain the situation to them,” he said.
“I think the government is willing to throw an enormous amount of money at this area right now, seeing as there is an election looming in 12 months and the situation we're in right now in Whyalla.
“We have an opportunity to go out to the government and say that we want to have a bigger, better, wider jetty with all of the facilities that will maximise usage and attract tourists.
“Once Arrium is sold, the spotlight will be off of Whyalla, so now is the time that we should ask the government to see how they can assist us.”
Acting Group Manager for Infrastructure Michelle Tucker said the cost of installing a new jetty would be ‘significantly’ higher than the $1 million cost of refurbishing the current jetty, which was outlined in a report to council by Stassi Consulting Engineers.
Ms Tucker said due to the state of the jetty, certain sections would have to be removed and new components would need to be manufactured to replace them.
“The current plan is to give the community a jetty the same dimension as the one we currently have, but it will be in as-new condition and have quite an extended life,” she said.
Councillor Tim Breuer said he was not in favor of installing a new jetty due to the potential cost and time frame involved.
“I think this highlights the importance of the elected members and staff being realistic around what sort of money needs to be collected and spent to maintain our assets in this city,” he said.
Councillor Robert Schmitz said Whyalla was in a ‘prime position’ to get a new and more 'family-friendly’ jetty.
“For the last couple of months we've been asked by state government representatives to give them projects that they would then look at funding or co-funding,” he said.
“I think having a conversation around a new jetty is certainly worthwhile.”
Councillor David Knox questioned why a 2014 report from Stassi Consulting Engineers regarding the jetty's condition was not acted upon, and why no regular maintenance had been undertaken on the structure.
“I'm just totally mystified as to how we have got into this particular situation, I just can't believe it,” he said.
Ms Tucker said she ‘could not explain’ why programs regarding the jetty, such as maintenance, had not been undertaken by staff before her time.
“I am embarrassed to sit here and speak to the chamber on these matters, particularly when I know that over a good number of years there have been a number of council assets which have been neglected in similar ways,” she said.
“Our community depends on these assets and recently we have been very focused on maintenance programs, we are very focused on looking at the details which come out of our asset management plans.
The community needs the commitment of the staff and the chamber to fund and then undertake work programs to ensure this doesn't happen in future.”