THE NSW minister for the environment has guaranteed $89,000 to engage a consultant to prepare a design for coastal protection works at Old Bar Beach.
Greater Taree City Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage have formed a working group to oversee the project that will see the preparation of a preliminary design for construction of a coastal protection structure at Old Bar Beach. The total project site area includes the stretch of coast from the Surf Life Saving Club to the MidCoast Water exfiltration ponds.
"While this stretch of coast is the focus of the project, the area in front of Lewis Street is clearly the most threatened and so we anticipate the solution will likely recommend some staged works that address that area first and foremost," council's executive leader corporate support, Laura Black said.
The working group will have regular face-to-face briefings with key stakeholders.
Ms Black said the community engagement strategy chosen by the working group adopts three approaches 'involve', 'consult' and 'inform'. "It means that the right people hear the right messages and that communication is clear, concise and targeted."
Ms Black said a meeting had already been held with a representative group of the recent Lewis Street seawall DA proponents and advised that the meeting went well.
"We discussed progress with the project, how we will keep the residents and broader community informed and involved where required and we also talked about some of the nuances of the likely location and design of the coastal protection structure called for in this project," Ms Black said.
Property owners in Lewis Street and Pacific Parade will also be receiving correspondence advising them of the project and Ms Black hopes to speak with the Old Bar Chamber next month.
The working party intends to consider responses to a Request For Tender (RFT) in mid-September and issue a contract very quickly after that. Ms Black explained that the consultants brief was issued to relevant coastal engineering firms in the first week of September, with an onsite meeting held today. The submission close date is the third week of September.
"We have always claimed that we need a solution quickly and the project plan reflects that," she said.
"We intend awarding the contract in September and we expect a preliminary design report by mid-November. And we can quite conclusively state now that we will be holding a general community meeting toward the end of November."
Ms Black concludes that "It does feel good to be informing stakeholders and the community of good news and progressive action on this matter at last; we understand it has caused most angst for those directly affected, but has also been a burden for the community more broadly. But we believe we are now on the right track."