North Wall makeover in the works
THE public access path along Ballina's North Wall will get much-needed improvements before the end of this financial year.
Ballina Shire councillors Susan Meehan and Robyn Hordern said they had been lobbying the NSW Department of Lands for funding to fix the path since first joining the council.
Cr Jeff Johnson, in a letter, also called for an extension of the North Wall pathway. He said it would be a 'highlight for locals and tourists, instead of the broken-up concrete path with currently exists'.
“As keen long-term Ballina walkers and cyclists, Robyn and I have raised the matter in council and have directly approached Department of Lands representatives, in addition to emailing and phoning,” Cr Meehan said.
“The council's civil services group has also been proactive in their representations on our behalf.”
So the two women were thrilled to learn late last week that the Department of Lands had offered $18,000 on a dollar-for-dollar basis to make the public access way safer.
“This is a terrific outcome,” Cr Meehan said.
“The condition of North Wall in Ballina for walking, cycling and fishing has been of ongoing concern.
“The council has, over many years, sought to negotiate improvements to the pathway surface of the wall with the owners and controllers of the area, the Department of Lands.
“But the department has maintained that the primary purpose of the structure is maritime and any improvements by the council would encourage alternate uses such as fishing and walking, and therefore making the council liable in the case of any accident.”
Civil services group manager, John Truman, said the council had been advocating for many years for 'an upgrade to the access and amenity of the wall for pedestrians'.
“The wall is not a council-owned or controlled asset and that advice from the New South Wales Government indicated that the council would need to indemnify the Government against public risk should the council wish to undertake any upgrade works on the wall,” Mr Truman said.
“The required indemnity is an uninsurable risk and therefore could not be responsibly contemplated by the council.”
But Mr Truman said the Government had recently changed its position on the issue.
“The council now has an offer from the Department of Lands, who have made an offer to jointly fund, on a 50:50 basis, a $36,000 project to upgrade the crest of the wall in 2009-2010,” Mr Truman said.
“Now that the new financial year has commenced, arrangements will be made to accept the offer and initiate the project.”