The Esperance Tanker Jetty sadly continues to deteriorate in the face of fast approaching harsh winter. The action, or rather inaction, of the Esperance Shire to protect and further the life of this iconic 83-year-old structure has drawn the ire or the community and councillor members alike. While the pillars and wood continues to fall away into the ocean and wash up on the sands of the foreshore, I thought this is an excellent opportunity to answer some of the aggravated questions or clear up the misunderstandings that I myself has previously had surrounding this contentious issue.
First and foremost, my preference would have been to restore the Esperance jetty Tanker to its forer majestic glory, mainly because I dislike modern designs and I think upholding the integrity and look of the structure would be a fitting acknowledgement to this history of the town.
Sadly, restoration is simply not possible for a number of reasons.
The jetty is 83-years-old and I believe well past its working life. A concrete slab laid on the structure previously which aimed to prolong the integrity of the structure, succeeded in crippling the load-bearing pillars due to the excess weight. Even trying to access the jetty to restore it would be an immense health and safety risk and rebuilding from a barge would be costly.
Another aspect that cannot be understated is that the heritage order being held over the jetty paralyses anyone from doing anything to it. Once that order was placed, the Shire and anyone they contracted were unable to lay a finger on it, not to fix or demolish it. The heritage council will only lift the order once an adequate and appropriate plan has been detailed and tabled to them, and obviously meets their approval. The heritage council would want to oversee the plan so the new jetty, whether it is partially restored or completely rebuilt under the theme and spirit of the old structure, abides by the heritage guidelines.
The consensus around the community is that swift action is needed. Either to restore the structure immediately or pull it apart to salvage the existing materials. Again, because of the heritage order nothing can be moved or touched officially. The only part of the jetty that can be kept and stored for later (aesthetic use mind you, there is no way the existing materials would be suitable structurally in the new design) is the pieces of wood that has been washed ashore and collected by passers-by.
In fact, debris on the bottom of the ocean cannot be touched as it breaches the nature conservation act applied to Esperance Bay. Floating pieces also must be left alone, as apparently their collection can be a risk to health and safety.
So in a nutshell, the current jetty cannot be touched under no circumstances, and can only be recovered if it collapses further and its constituents collects on the beach. The heritage order bind the Shire and other stakeholders from any involvement to help mitigate further collapse or demolish the remaining teetering structure.
Looking forward, there are some pennies in the bank, approximately $2 million. The plan at the moment from the contractors has estimated a required $6 million, and includes a design that adheres to the general look of the original, even using its former material in aesthetic forms. Once the design is confirmed the Shire will go about seeking the extra funds in order to commence the project.
I mentioned before the feeling around Esperance town is that swift action is needed… out of all the variables that is one that I can guarantee will not succeed.