ABOVE WATER: Coffs Harbour Yacht Club secretary-manager Bob StJohn and commodore John Wait have concerns over the club’s future.
ABOVE WATER: Coffs Harbour Yacht Club secretary-manager Bob StJohn and commodore John Wait have concerns over the club’s future. David Barwell

Yacht club calls on council for lease reprieve

PLUMMETING revenue and a proposed rise in Crown land rental fees have put the future of the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club in jeopardy.

In the past month, the club has been hit with a "triple whammy" with the damage to the marina, work on the northwall and slipway resulting in patronage falling by 85%.

The club's income relies heavily on boaters, but the relocation of many vessels to Yamba and a stark drop in visiting boats has left the club counting the cost.

The damage has also caused the cancellation of the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht race - an event that boosted the club's success by attracting 420 skippers and crew.

It comes as Coffs Harbour City Council - as trustee of the land - is considering a rent review the club's management says it is unable to afford.

The club's board is calling for a six-month moratorium on the rental to keep the club afloat.

"We need some form of rent reduction until the finalisation of the north wall construction, because with traffic reduction it's knocked our patronage down by 85%," club commodore John Wait said.

"Not only that, we've lost in excess of 20-odd boats which are the backbone of the sailing club.

"We need the council to come to the table with a moratorium until it's rectified."

The club has been operating from its current building for more than 40 years and currently pays $47,200 in rent per year.

As well as meeting that cost, funds raised by the club are channelled into fixed overhead and ongoing maintenance costs.

The current lease will terminate in June next year, and changes in rent are being considered under an extension to 2020.

"The council made it a condition that an independent valuer assess the market rent," manager Bob StJohn said.

"But a market valuation would come back a lot more than it is now because they want it prepared on a commercial basis.

"Our argument is - how can you value something of this unique nature and compare it to a commercial basis?"

A council spokeswoman said "any change of rent during the lease term is as the lease requires".

Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser called on support for the community groups and events that operate from the site.

"At a time when the harbour has been absolutely trashed they should immediately waive all rentals to ensure the yacht club, cafe and other businesses survive," he said.



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