Samurai Beach Resort – The Last Naked Truth?
Samurai Beach Resort is no more. The last 5 page report about the resort to the October 28 2014 Council Meeting did not contain any reference to Samurai in all 5 pages. All memory of Samurai Beach Resort has been expunged, deleted, erased! Council Staff refers to it as 562 Gan Gan Road, One Mile Beach. Carmel Foster – Acting Group Manager Corporate Services now calls it ‘TreEscape Park!’
TRRA Inc. still remembers it as the black hole that swallowed at least $17 Mill of ratepayers funds, that Council closed in April 2013 and now they are going to borrow another half a million dollars to open it up again!
The letter TRRA Inc. sent to Councillors before the Council Meeting is HERE
A copy of a letter from the avid Council watcher “Concerned Ratepayer” sent to us and Councillors is HERE
A response from Carmel Foster A/Group Manager Corporate Services is HERE
Despite our concerns the TreEscape proposal was supported by all but one Councillor (Dingle) at the meeting. The motion was that Council:
- Endorses the opening of the business as an affordable camping and accommodation enterprise.
- Approves utilizing funds from the Property Reserve until funds are received from the sale of cabins on the site for the construction of infrastructure and refurbishment of existing units.
TRRA Inc. have examined the material that Council have released on the proposal so far, and from what we can see for the short term they are just reopening the resort on the same basis that it was operating before closure in 2013. The proposed sale of the demountable cabins next year is of great concern to us because the proceeds are to be ploughed back into the site infrastructure, including building a camp kitchen. What is the exit strategy here? If they could not sell it before with decent accommodation on it, imagine what they will get for it with a few tents and a camp kitchen. The projected $450,000 sale price for the demountables is very optimistic. Where is the evidence for a market in second hand cabins?. The specialized craneage and transport costs to move the units may be more than the cost of new units, delivered in flat-pack form and bolted together onsite.
The original proposal to sell the cabins first, which would at least have determined their real value, has now been superceded by borrowing the $450,000 from the Property Trust Fund, without any guarantee of recouping that amount. So they are going to throw another borrowed half million at a very flawed investment with little prospect of recovery.
TRRA Inc. seriously doubt the viability of this proposal, If Council are going to borrow more money for this failed investment, ratepayers will want detailed answers to the following questions:
- How much money has this investment cost the ratepayers of Port Stephens so far since this property was purchased in 2001, including loan, insurance, security, maintenance costs and depreciation. Before we commit any more resources, what does it owe the ratepayers already?
- What offers were received when the lease was put on the market twice, (The Mayor is quoted in the Examiner as refusing $2.6 Mill,) why were they refused and how much did these processes cost?.
- Let the community see the full business plan underpinning this further loan and investment. We want our accountant to evaluate it. (If any of the figures are legitimately deemed ‘Commercial in Confidence’ we will respect that). But the community needs to be convinced that this will work!
- How much will it cost to reopen the park now that it has been closed for 20 months? What condition is the Wedding Marquee in? What will it cost to clean and reopen the pool and the units, and bring the landscaping up to scratch?
- What are the terms of the renegotiated lease with the Crown? Why was this not done much earlier when it became obvious that the original lease was unsustainable?
- What is the end game here? Is there any exit strategy?
Successive Councils have abdicated their responsibilities and completely failed their constituents since it became obvious that this investment was an absolute dog back in about 2004. TRRA Inc. is amazed, given this history, that the Property Services Dept. would come up with this recommendation to go after this very different market, and that the majority of our Councillors would just accept their proposal without question after closing the facility altogether last April.
TRRA Inc. remains to be convinced that there is any merit in this proposal and we demand some answers from Council to our considered questions as soon as possible.
TRRA Inc. will be submitting a GIPPA (Freedom of information) request to Council immediately.
Council Press Release 30 October 2014:
New affordable holiday destination at One Mile gets the green light
On Tuesday night, Councillors endorsed the opening of TreEscape Park, an affordable camping and accommodation destination at 562 Gan Gan Road, One Mile Beach.
They also approved the sale of 11 onsite cabins in the new year, the funds from which will be used for new infrastructure and the refurbishment of existing units.
TreEscape Park will provide low-cost accommodation and camping facilities that will allow holiday-makers to take full advantage of all the activities in and around Port Stephens.
TreEscape Park will provide opportunities for educational and activity-based camps for school groups, leveraging off the extensive native flora and fauna. It also aims to promote outdoor physical and creative activities such as bush-walking and jewellery-making, as well as social activities like cooking, sing-alongs and campfire storytelling – old-fashioned fun that is perhaps being left behind in the age of rapidly-advancing technology.
The Park also has a tennis court and fully landscaped swimming pool and spa, making it the perfect family summer holiday destination.
TreEscape Park will be operational by this Christmas 2014.