IN a move that has the community concerned, Port Stephens Council has put the Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club clubhouse out for ‘Expressions of Interest,’ seeking an operator.
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The facility has sat in the community’s hands since two local members mortgaged their own properties to commence the build some 40-50 years ago.
Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club President Lachlan MacPherson is deeply disappointed that Council has taken the action, which he believes is putting the future of sailing for Port Stephens youth at risk.
He believes that the Club should retain the license for the premises.
MacPherson’s son is one of the sailors that uses the facility.
“The new EOI for the lease is very different from the previous lease and puts greater financial burdens upon the club (if they were successful in attaining the lease),” said Mr MacPherson.
Mr MacPherson is keen to see the asset remain in the community’s hands, and used to provide sailing activities for Port Stephens residents and visitors, not just for the next five years but well into the future.
MacPherson and the committee are keen to work with Council to continue on in the premises.
They believe that there is more to the Clubhouse than Council gaining a return on the asset.
Councillor Nell said, “I hope to see the clubhouse stay in the Clubs hands.”
However, Cr Nell also stated that as with every Council building that is used by the community there are rules that need to be followed, particularly in relation to safety.
The Clubhouse hosts a range of regattas annually, as well as hosting learn to sail schools for local youth.
The Club currently has over 70 members and while COVID-19 has stopped some events, they are hopeful to host a regatta closer to the end of the year.
By Marian SAMPSON