WORK will begin in a few weeks on one of the most exciting foreshore developments Taree has seen in recent years, linking the most popular sections of the Manning riverbank through the CBD.
"It's a wonderful project to start us off in 2013," an enthusiastic mayor, Paul Hogan, said yesterday.
And it all comes free of cost to ratepayers, as a Commonwealth government bonus - the entire $1.2 million funded from Canberra announced last year by local member Rob Oakeshott.
Tenders are now open from companies wishing to carry out the regional development initiative - the 'Manning River Foreshore Upgrade', and the successful tenderer will be known early next month.
The first earthworks are expected to begin shortly after, with the project expected to take four to five months to complete by late July.
The project will provide a continuous open space along the riverbank from the new completed Harry Bennett Park just upriver of the Martin Bridge, past the back of the CBD businesses, along an undeveloped and derelict section of riverbank north of the Sailo's club, to end at the rowing club in Endeavour Place.
It will provide a three metre wide continuous, improved and meandering walkways/cycleway, exercise and drink stations, picnic shelters and complementary landscaping.
All will be in harmony with recently completed council upgrades of the foreshore including Harry Bennett Park (on the old Taree Pool site), Manning Quays (at the river end of Manning Street), and Endeavour Place (with its improved jetty and launching facilities).
"Ultimately we hope this section of foreshore will link up with the development planned for the Pitt Street Precinct," (the site of the former Manning River Dairy Society factory), the mayor said.
"This would see an unbroken stretch of public recreation space stretching several kilometres along the Taree waterfront - a most exciting prospect," he added.
"The foreshore upgrade is one of the best beautification projects we've been involved in for many years. Originally it was Taree's Aquatic Festival which funded the beautification of the riverbank, but council has been responsible since the festival folded.
"Much of the original stonework along the river wall is now falling into disrepair, but this funding will allow the riverbank to be re-stabilised and the wall to be re-built where needed.
"Instead of the old straight concrete path along the riverbank behind the CBD, the entire length of upgrade will see a three metre wide meandering pathway between landscaped sections, with drink stations and exercise stations and picnic shelters.
"It will return the entire section of riverbank to a people-friendly place.
"Hopefully it might also convince some of our landowners to return their property's focus to the river, instead of turning their backs onto it."
To the immediate north of the sailing club, a long-time eyesore section of riverbank will undergo a total transformation.
Mayor Hogan said an existing old timber structure there will be removed, and a split-level section of new pathway will provide for upper and lower levels of walkway-cycleway, with stainless steel balustrading providing a safety barrier on the higher sections.
Individuals and groups such as the sailing club, dragon boaters and the Manning Valley Business Chamber have been involved in the planning process with council.
Construction works may have some short-term community impact on the availability of use of the foreshore during the project, the mayor said.
Consultation with the Sailo's club has been undertaken to minimise impacts during its peak trading times, and the entire project has been scheduled to minimise inconveniences to the community and affected businesses.
Work is expected to start in February so that it falls outside the busy summer school holidays.
Council will produce a newsletter advising businesses and residents of the extent of the program just before works start.
Friday: Mayor Hogan's thoughts on Crowdy Harbour foreshore.