Sailing club faces uncertain future with lease

UNCERTAINTY: Port Curtis Sailing Club secretary manager Brian Dawson (left) with committee members Lynne Campbell and Ian Williams, and Peppy the lorikeet.
UNCERTAINTY: Port Curtis Sailing Club secretary manager Brian Dawson (left) with committee members Lynne Campbell and Ian Williams, and Peppy the lorikeet. Paul Braven

PORT Curtis Sailing Club members are wondering how long they will be able to stay in their clubrooms on the banks of Auckland Creek.

The club leases the site of its 68-year-old building from the Gladstone Ports Corporation - a contract that is due to expire in 2023, and that states there is no option of renewal.

The current lease, which the committee signed in 2013, contains two clauses that have them worried.

One - under the heading 'Option to Renew' - states: 'Clause 3.22 of the lease is deleted and a new clause is inserted as follows: 3.22 Intentionally deleted'.

A second clause in a separate part of the lease contract states: 'Item 10 Option to Renew - Nil'.

Club secretary manager Brian Dawson said committee members signed at the time because they felt they had "no choice".

The committee felt they had time up their sleeve to negotiate down the track.

Had they not signed at the time the club would already be closed, he said.

"We have been negotiating with the corporation in an attempt to establish some security of tenure, but so far the best we have received is a letter of offer for 25 years - and that's not a firm lease.

"We met with the ports corporation after receiving the letter and explained that the terms were not satisfactory and gave no long-term certainty.

"Given the strong possibility of the port being leased this year, we need some certainty before that happens."

The club is proposing a Deed of Grant in Trust - that is the arrangement Gladstone Regional Council has with the Gladstone Airport.

That could give club members security for the next 99 years.

Committee member Ian Williams believes that's the least the corporation can do to create some certainty.

"The club has been here since 1946 - long before the port or the town got busy - we were here before them, and we maintain the club should be able to stay here," he said.

The club employs between 15-20 full-time staff and up to a further 28 as required.

"We would like to see those people have some security as well," Mr Dawson said.

He said the club wanted to encourage further improvements to the area it leases to fit in with the continued development of the East Shores precinct.

But, committee members are wary of making improvements while the threat of closure hangs overhead.

"We've heard from many sources that we shouldn't worry, that all will be fine, but that's not a lease document," he said.

A spokesman for the ports corporation offered the following statement in response to the club's concerns: "The current lease agreement between GPC and the Port Curtis Sailing Club is due to expire in 2023.

"In August 2014, GPC provided the Port Curtis Sailing Club with an opportunity to enter into a new lease agreement with the terms being commercial in confidence.

"To date, GPC have not received a response from the club in regards to this offer".

Topics:  gladstone ports corporation lease port curtis sailing club sailing

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