A tug-of-war is taking place for the lease of a scout hall on a prime site near the water at Yowie Bay.
Scouts Australia has leased the Wonga Road property from Sutherland Shire Council for more than 50 years, but has not used it during the last three years.
Scouts have made the facility available to other community groups, and one of the regular hirers, Port Hacking Dragon Boat Club, wants to lease the premises.
Scouts say they plan to resume using the hall and have asked to renew their lease, which expired at the end of last year.
To settle the issue, the council’s Services Committee has recommended expressions of interest for a five-year lease be called from not-for-profit community groups.
The committee also recommended the council’s community leasing policy be reviewed and consideration be given to removing the “first right of refusal” clause to sitting tenants when a lease expires.
The matter is due to be considered at the full council meeting on Monday night.
A staff report presented a range of options, including selling the valuable property, but recommended calling expressions of interest.
The report said Scouts leased 13 properties from the council and either owned or occupied a further 20 sites in the shire.
The Wonga Road hall, adjoining homes and Kalang Reserve, had been leased to the Scots for more than 50 years.
The report said hall did “not have an active scout troop in residence”.
”It was Scouts’ intention some years ago to relocate the nearby (active) Alcheringa Reserve Scout Group to the Scout Hall at Wonga Road,” the report said.
“To date, this has not occurred though this remains the Scouts’ aim.
“Scouts also lease the Alcheringa Reserve premises from council and this lease expires on 31 December 2019.
“The Alcheringa Reserve building is approximately one kilometre from the Wonga Road Scout Hall.”
The report said the Port Hacking Dragon Boat Club had expressed an interest in leasing the hall in 2011, and had renewed its interest.
The club had put forward the following points:
- By leasing the premises and having a base, it could build the sport and its membership.
- The location and access to the nearby boat ramp and Yowie Bay is ideal for its sport.
- Has raised about $40,000 to renovate the premises and install showers.
- Has plans to build a deck to the east of the hall as a place for members’to socialise.
- Would actively advertise the use of the hall for hire and continue the existing arrangement and hire of the hall to the women’s exercise group Changing Shape.
- The members are willing and able to take on all costs of renewal, maintenance and outgoings of the facility in exchange for a peppercorn rent.
Scouts had put forward the following points:
- Scouts NSW is currently developing a property strategy and has engaged a consultant company to assist in the delivery which is due for late this year.
- Scouts has asked to occupy the premises until its strategy is formalised.
- Its intention is to relocate the active Alcheringa Scout troop to Wonga Road.
- The Scouts plan to recruit and increase their membership.
- Would continue to allows groups to hire the hall.
- Scouts has the financial backing of Scouts NSW to maintain and repair all of its Scout halls.
The report said any future use or lease arrangement needed to have regard for the surroundings and not interfere with “the quiet enjoyment of neighbours”.