After more than a decade of stinking seagrass build up and beach erosion, the plagued Port Geographe marina development has been given a multi-million dollar life line by the State Government.
Transport minister Troy Buswell today announced a $28.15 million rescue package to reconfigure the groynes and get the troubled 700-lot canal development back on track.
“We have spent $1.8 million over the last couple of years engaging the local community and scientific experts to come up with a new design,” Mr Buswell said.
“The government has committed this money to facilitate work, which we expect to happen during 2013 and it will take 18 months.”
The money will modify the shape and length of the western breakwater, remove the pocket beach groynes to eliminate trapping of seagrass, realign the foreshore and change the eastern seawall to address beach erosion at Wonnerup.
The $28.15 million falls short of a complete takeover by LandCorp. Wespac Bank, which has pumped $96 into the development, previously knocked back a State Government proposal.
Mr Buswell said negotiations with Westpac were over and the bank would have to find a private developer to take on the development.
“We are confident our input will stimulate private enterprise. We didn’t think it was a good use of taxpayer funds to effectively bail out Westpac Bank,” he said.
The annual bill for removing rotting seagrass was approaching $2 million paid by the State Government – a situation Mr Buswell described as “unsustainable”.
The investment was welcomed by Port Geographe Action Group chairman Peter Maccora.
“We’ve been involved with the design process and modelling and we’re confident this is the best possible outcome,” he said.
“We’re optimistic once the work is done a private developer will come and the numbers will stack up.
“For more than ten years this has been a black spot on Busselton. Today’s announcement is what we’ve been looking forward to for over a decade.”
Mr Maccora said the investment was also good news because eventually the State Government would have passed the annual clean up bill to the City of Busselton – a cost Busselton City Council Mayor Ian Stubbs said they could not afford.
Cr Stubbs said it was disappointing LandCorp would not be taking over the development, but he accepted the Government’s reasons for not doing so.