The transformation of Port Fairy's East Beach is a step closer after Moyne Shire Council endorsed design plans for the redevelopment of its foreshore.
Moyne Shire councillors voted unanimously to push the project forward after extensive community consultation and with time ticking away to complete the works.
The council's infrastructure and environment director Edith Farrell said construction on stage one of the redevelopment would start by mid-2024 and had to be finished by May 2025 to meet state government funding conditions.
The government agreed to tip in $1.27 million in April 2022 to help fund the $1.7 million first stage, which will redevelop the foreshore from the existing toilet block to the roundabout at Bourne Avenue.
The funds came with several conditions, including replacing the toilet block, creating a large lawn area, two barbecue shelters, and accessible recreation areas, as well as the completion deadline.
The project plans were developed from community engagement stretching back to 2018, but the drawings were exhibited to give further opportunity for feedback.
The council held two drop in sessions and tours of the site with project consultants that drew at least 200 people, along with paper and online feedback forms.
While the majority of responses were positive, not all locals were on board with the plan, with many criticising the removal of beachfront parking. Ms Farrell said the creation of parking spaces behind the surf club meant there was an overall gain of 10 spaces.
Some people wanted the area left as it is.
"Horrible!! This isn't St Kilda beach! This isn't why we travel all the way from Melbourne!" one person said.
"If you ruin East Beach by adding large areas of concrete and lawn, we will take our tourism elsewhere."
Another person criticised the plan to replace the existing toilet block.
"Replacing the existing toilet facilities with just 6 cubicles is insane," they said.
Stage two of the project will redevelop the area between the existing toilet block and the surf club.
Ms Farrell said this phase of the project hadn't been costed yet and there was no funding committed to it, but the plan was to have everything finalised so it was "shovel-ready" when stage one was finished.
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