Batavia Motor Inn stoush between developer and state government leaves itinerant residents in limbo

The owners of Geraldton’s derelict Batavia Motor Inn site want its itinerant residents evicted despite having not yet formulated a plan for redevelopment.

Between 30 and 60 people often stay at the former accommodation site at any one time, including long term residents and others who use it for short term accommodation while visiting the regional centre.

Last month a man was seriously assaulted at the premises.

The incident prompted Geraldton Mayor and site neighbour Shane Van Styn to demand the buildings be torn down, citing regular drug and alcohol use as well as fighting. 

While owners 54 Fitzgerald Pty Ltd declined an ABC request for interview they did provide a letter dated April 25 addressed to Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton and signed by company directors Joe Scaffidi, Anthony Scaffidi and Michael O’Sullivan.  

The City of Greater Geraldton (CCG), WA’s Department of Communities, police and neighbours had been copied in on the correspondence.

The letter revealed the company had proposed a plan for the site, called Civic Heart,  which had been rejected by the CCG.

CGG CEO Ross McKim said the proposal outlined a plan for the local government to move its administrative operations to the location as a foundation tenant. 

“Councillors decided not to pursue that option because of the cost to the ratepayers,” he said. 

In the letter, 54 Fitzgerald Pty Ltd requested Ms Dalton speak to the relevant state government ministers and begin evicting residents of the site because it intended to “robustly re-fence the site in the coming months” in preparation for any future development.

“We are placing all relevant authorities and interested parties on notice that prior to fencing works commencing, we will require vacant possession of the site and await your correspondence in terms of how this can be achieved,” the letter stated.

Man lies on stretcher surrounded by ambulance officers and police
Emergency services treated a man at the site this week after an alleged assault. (Supplied)

Responsibility back on owners

Ms Dalton said a range of state-run and not-for-profit services were working together to assist those living at or visiting the site. 

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