Ballina could become a maritime hub

BALLINA could become a maritime hub with construction of a new tower marine tower set to commence as well as plans to dredge the Ballina bar and designs being finalised for a new marine port.

After more than a decade of waiting, the final bit of funding needed to make the new marine rescue tower a reality was announced yesterday.

Ballina Shire Council is expected to put tenders out for the tower's constructions shortly.

Plans are also underway for a "one-off" dredging of the Ballina bar which will involve up to 30,000 tonnes of sand being removed to create a 4m depth clearance at low tide.

At its shallowest, in 2011, the 100m wide channel was just 2.6m deep.

The proposal would see the removed sand placed at the southern end of Lighthouse Beach near the break wall, to encourage nourishment of the beaches further north.

Ballina Mayor David Wright said the marine tower and bar dredging were needed in order for Ballina to move forward as a potential maritime hub.

"With the dredging of the bar and having a marine rescue tower there, it will mean that Ballina Port is virtually open for business," he said.

"We've also got the land near the Ramada hotel, owned by State Government, we're looking at putting a tender out for development of that area."

The final two Master Plan designs for the redevelopment of the Martin St Boat Harbour Precinct are nearing completion and will be put to Ballina Council for voting.

Port of Ballina Taskforce member and environmental engineer James Foster said investment in Ballina marine infrastructure had been "a long time coming".

"The Port of Ballina Taskforce has been working very hard over the last few years to improve marine infrastructure and it looks like we're starting to kick some goals," he said.

"Ballina used to be a boat building hub, a lot of our early trade was by the river, in the last 20 or 30 years that's really dropped away.

"But there's amazing commercial and recreational uses of the river that will benefit the town."

Mr Foster said the aim of the Martin St Boat Harbour was to create more boating infrastructure in the area, finalise cycle and pedestrian links and create attractive open space to improve the area's amenity.

Local consultants GeoLINK are undertaking the project in conjunction with ENV Solutions and Red Belly Landscape Architecture + Urban Design.

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