FUNDING SHORTFALL: This is an aerial view from Skennars Head looking south along the route where the Coastal Recreational Walk will be built if Ballina Shire Council can find $300,000.
FUNDING SHORTFALL: This is an aerial view from Skennars Head looking south along the route where the Coastal Recreational Walk will be built if Ballina Shire Council can find $300,000.

$300,000 funding shortfall for long-awaited coastal path

IT'S been so long since the budget was prepared for Ballina Shire Council's long-awaited coastal recreational walk that there is now a $300,000 shortfall in funding available.

The issue will be raised at Thursday's council meeting.

Three construction tenders were received this month for the project, which will create a formal walkway along the existing informal 3km coastal path from Sharpes Beach through to Pat Morton Lookout at Lennox Head.

It is part of the project to build a path from Ballina to Lennox Head which dates back to the late 1980s.

Council staff report the latest budget for the project is $1.8m, and that is greater than the budget prepared in 2014 which was used in grant applications.

There is only $1.502m available for the project made up of a State Government grant of $750,000 and $752,000 from council's community infrastructure reserve.

The works for the walk include 294m of asphalt paving, a section of boardwalk, 694m of gravel paths, 405m of sand and hardwood chip track, two sections of stone steps, works for a 123m steep pathway, along with eight viewing platforms plus other rehabilitation work and removal of large rocks.

In a confidential memorandum to councillors on the tenders submitted, staff also accounted for the removal of four viewing platforms as well as some finger paths to coastal viewpoints from the project in calculating the $300,000 shortfall.

Staff report the project is a high-profile one that has "been in development for many

years."

"It is preferred to continue to advance the project by negotiating and awarding the tender with the reduced scope," staff report.

"The existing budget allows for commencement of construction this financial year and the $298,000 will be required for completion of the project during 2020/21."

Staff report funds from $800,000 set aside for the Lennox Head Rural Fire Service shed could be redirected to the path project, along with $1.225m in Federal Government funding for bushfire-related works, with government approval.

The recommendations to council include authorising the general manager to start negotiations with B & S Landscaping and Earthworks, the preferred tenderer, with a view to entering into a contract and for a report to be prepared for council's finance committee on options to source the $298,000 needed to complete the path.


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