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Residents make emotional plea to council to vote in favour of extending Point Moore Cottage leases to 2039

Anna Cox and Matthew PaddickGeraldton Guardian
Point Moore residents bargained with Council on Tuesday evening.
Camera IconPoint Moore residents bargained with Council on Tuesday evening. Credit: Travis Petford/RegionalHUB

Point Moore residents have made an emotional plea to the City of Greater Geraldton one week before councillors are set to vote on the fate of the 17 beach cottages that remain without a lease beyond 2025.

The Point Moore beach cottages offer an affordable accommodation option in Geraldton, where 174 leases have been made available.

Of those, 17 are set to expire in either 2025 or 2028 after the the city’s offer to extend the leases was declined back in 2017.

During public question time at the city’s Tuesday night agenda forum, one resident spoke of her family history in the cottages.

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The family from Northampton bought the cottage in 2009 as a secondary residence, after it was listed for sale and located opposite their grandmother’s cottage.

“It has meant so many things to us and made a lot possible ... it helped my mother-in-law live independently in her home until age 91,” the resident said.

Two of the family’s three children now reside permanently in the cottage for their work in Geraldton, and their third child stays during the week to minimise a long commute to school.

“They consider Geraldton their home and intend to live there long-term, and extending leases would provide them this opportunity,” said the mother of three.

“I plead with you to support the city’s recommendation.”

Kerrie Elliott, a resident in the cottages with her family, has been there since her daughter was born 16 years ago.

“It has developed into an amazing place with amazing people,” she said.

“There are amazing mothers and fathers and people I am really proud to call my community,” she said.

The family home-school their daughter and as part of her curriculum, their elderly neighbour Allen — a former station hand — came over for weekly lessons.

“We took care of him and supported him in his old age because he wanted to die in his home,” Ms Elliott said.

The council is set to vote on how to proceed, either by offering the lease holders the same offer to be in line with the other leases, discussing new arrangements, or letting the licenses expire.

The latter would force the tenants to move out.

In an official document released by the city, it details “two primary options for council to consider”.

Councillors Aaron Horsman and Simon Keemink thanked the pair for their “moving” presentation.

Cr Horsman questioned whether the Airbnb model would be supported with the Point Moore cottages, to which CEO Ross McKim confirmed they were not designed for commercial benefit or short-term renting.

Cr Peter Fiorenza questioned city executives on whether or not the Mid West Ports Authority would have an impact on the lease extension.

Mr McKim responded by saying: “The city has regularly discussed Point Moore with the Port to see if they have any interest in the area and to date they don’t.”

The first option is to uphold council’s 2017 decision, where the 17 leaseholders can accept an offer to lease until 2039 with the same conditions as the other 157 leaseholders, while a second alternative would be to revisit the matter and make a different offer to current leaseholders.

The city’s executive have recommended councillors vote to give the 17 leaseholders the opportunity to enter into a new lease in line with the other 157 leases, which expire in 2039.

The Point Moore cottages were first built in 1966 to help offset the cottages affected by the Geraldton Port expansion.

As it stands, leaseholders pay $3126 in fees on top of rates, while the 50 per cent pensioners’ discount will remain in place as well as the yearly $250 demolition levy.

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