Eden looking for a champion as wharf precinct businesses dealt blow


In a cruel blow to the Eden community, tourism businesses at the wharf in the old wharf building look set to be evicted.

The NSW Department of Crown Lands recently gave leaseholders, the Marine Discovery Centre, a breach of lease notice and asked them to undertake repairs to the wharf building. It's understood the repairs are within the vicinity of one million dollars. 

The Marine Discovery Centre has been injecting funds into maintaining the old building since 2007, and has recently been offering reduced rents to sub-tenants.

Businesses in the building include cafes, fish and chip shops, Drift bar and restaurant, Eden Water Police and the Federal Government's old customs department, now called Border Force.

The former chair of the Marine Discovery Centre's board, Paul Whitton said yesterday the board was unable to find the funds to make the repairs and had gone  into voluntary administration.

He said the breach notice came as a shock as it had followed on from a meeting with Crown Lands about revitalising the precinct.

He said he wouldn't speculate on rumours around the town, and as of yesterday said he had not heard from the Member for Bega, the Liberal Party's Andrew Constance for two weeks.

He said despite the current circumstances facing the region and the town, and the amount of dollars available, supposedly dedicated to helping businesses and regional economies, there been no offers of assistance.

Andrew Constance's office yesterday afternoon told East Coast Radio local members "do not get involved in the commercial negotiations between government departments and tenants".

"I am aware of the concerns, and have offered to the Marine Discovery Centre to facilitate a meeting with them and Minister for Crown Lands, Melinda Pavey within the 28 days as noted to assist them in making an informed decision. We are hoping that will proceed on 6 October," he said in a statement. 

The Eden Chamber of Commerce has described the situation as ludicrous and has told the media the precinct is one of the most important tourism areas in the Bega Valley Shire.

The federal Member for Eden Monaro, Labor's Kristy McBain has said the building is home to important and successful businesses, including the Marine Discovery Centre. She said she'd been in touch with a number of the businesses and hoped a way forward could be found quickly.