RAIN forced the official opening of the Manning foreshore development indoors, where nearly 150 packed into council chambers.
The John Churton Walk stretches for 1.3km from Harry Bennett Park to the Manning River Rowing Club.
It is named in memory of John Churton, the last mayor of Taree Municipal Council who gave 60 years service to the community in various organisations including 21 years on council. He was represented at the opening by family members.
"John Heapy Churton was the last mayor of Taree Municipal Council and he was tasked with steering the amalgamation between Taree Municipal Council, Wingham Municipal Council and Manning Shire,'' mayor Paul Hogan explained.
"This was no small task as amalgamation was a very unpopular word at the time."
The three councils merged to become Greater Taree in 1981.
"The opening of this foreshore has given council the opportunity to honour people such as John who have shown great leadership and true service to their community.''
Cr Hogan and member for Lyne David Gillespie performed the opening of the $1.2 million development of which the Australian government contributed $1.2 million and council $150,000.
Initially the plan was for the gathering to walk the foreshore, however, the rain made that impossible, so instead there was a slideshow of the project, showing its many features including pathways, seating, exercise equipment, three water refill stations and aboriginal mosaics and the massive wheels that once worked the lift span on the Martin Bridge that enabled ships to pass through. Mid Coast Water chairman, Cr David West, spoke enthusiastically about the quality of water Mid Coast is able to provide at the refill stations.
Council's aboriginal officer, Tracey Anderson along with Aunty Barbara Clarke spoke of the cultural significance of the mosaics.
"The works also include additional parking, large ramp ways for disabled access and improvements to playground areas,'' Cr Hogan said.
"Most importantly the pathway now takes users on a more scenic and enjoyable route along our beautiful river.''
Dr Gillespie said he is looking forward to being able to run the entire 1.3km on the John Churton Walk while also using the water re-fill stations.
He added the development will benefit the community while also assist sports including power boats and dragon boats.
"This project is a great example of how governments can work together to deliver real economic benefits to local communities,'' he said.
Dr Gillespie said he hopes the foreshore will attract tourists and get them to stay long and spend money to assist the local economy.
The Heart Moves group from the YMCA gave a demonstration.