Now the Woolamai Surf Life Saving Club wants to tack a small observation deck and first aid room onto the ramp for their members to use on summer patrols.
But ward councillor Phil Wright says the design and placement of the ramp were a mistake in the first place and tacking onto it would only compound the problem.
Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club president Mark Donaldson presented the plans at the recent Community Plus forum in Newhaven, where the various options for siting the pavilion were discussed.
The club has proposed two concept designs: the first a split-level building incorporating observation deck and first aid room; the second, larger, design incorporates a large south-facing deck. Both connect with the current all-mobility access ramp.
The cost is estimated at $168,000 with $105,000 expected to come from Life Saving Victoria.
When asked why the building could not be site at the top of the bluff, Mr Donaldson said Phillip Island Nature Parks owned the land and did not want structures visible from the beach. He had also been told it could block the view of Smiths Beach residents.
He said the club carried out pilot voluntary patrols at Smith’s Beach – the island’s most popular surfing beach – in the 2012-13 summer but would need a permanent base to provide regular voluntary patrols.
Cr Wright said that he supported a club pavilion at Surfs Beach but using the ramp for access would result in “the eyesore becoming a permanent obstruction to our beautiful environment”.
He said Phillip Island Nature Parks pushed the “cattle grid” ramp through in 2003 without councillors understanding how it would dominate the coastscape, and many had hoped it would be removed one day.
Cr Wright said a new eight-bedroom house being built behind the proposed new life-saving tower at Smiths was a double whammy for the local coastscape.
“The lesson to be learned is that a single bad decision leads to other obstructions and a sure and steady path to domination by buildings of the coast.”
He said the debate reinforced the need for a detailed south coast recreational plan to protect and restore vegetation, control public access and prohibit coastal structures.
Cr Wright said he would like to latch onto the icon status of surf lifesavers to get the ramp dismantled and moved to head east across the creek into the wildlife reserve and gently grade back to the beach.
Mr Donaldson said it didn’t seem likely the ramp would be moved any time soon but the life saving tower would be portable and could be relocated if the ramp were ever moved.