Councillor questions need for study before action
Gosford West ward's Cr Richard Mehrtens has questioned whether yet another study is needed before action is taken to improve the amenity of Ocean Beach.
Cr Mehrtens asked questions of staff at the December 18 Council meeting based on his reading of the operational plan update that was tabled.
"The operational plan for 2017-18 says the Council will prepare a technical brief, undertake an assessment and commence coastal protection works by June 2018 as part of a three-year project subject to funding availability," Cr Mehrtens said.
However, he said that the Coastal Zone Management Plan was signed off by the NSW Government in 2017 and this had already been informed by a Coastal Zone Management Study, so the need for another study while the amenity of the beach continued to decline was questionable.
He said staff had informed him that an application for funding had been submitted to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for a study into long-term options.
"I also asked staff what would happen if Council did not get the funding and their response was that they would need to find ways to work the project into Council budgets," he said.
"People are already falling down the former walkways which are now steep and sheer and attempts to close temporarily and partially with fencing haven't worked.
"That stretch from Umina to Ettalong should be one of the Central Coast's premier beaches and when people visit what do they see? Temporary fencing and people falling over."
According to Cr Mehrtens, "there are many simple things we could do to beautify the Peninsula.
"Right now, the new foreshore at Ettalong ends after 30 metres and it is such a disappointment to return to the 1950s walking path.
"It was always going to be the start and the expectation was that future governments would continue along with the idea that Ettalong and Umina would be rebuilt," he said.
Cr Mehrtens said he would be fighting to see stages two and three of the foreshore redevelopment funded and was confident the two other ward councillors, deputy mayor Cr Chris Holstein and Cr Troy Marquet, would support his efforts.
"I would hope the other councillors would see the value to the region as we have been briefed about similar projects around Terrigal Lagoon and, in the longer term, around Terrigal Haven.
"I have spoken with The Bays Community Group and they are keen for some sort of walk way from The Bays to Woy Woy.
"Many community groups tell me that there has, in the past, been at least some sort of planning done on such proposals.
"There have been concept plans, master plans, town centre plans but then they have been shelved because there has been no money.
"There are still a lot of questions that should be asked of the financial affairs of the former Gosford Council but I am concerned that because all of the senior managers have gone and we only have former Wyong managers, that we will not get the answers.
"In the case of Ettalong and Umina, they are the places where people go.
"They are booming right now but 300 metres of waterfront renewal and then nothing is such a let down.
"We have a State election in over 12 months and a Federal election within the next 18 months and I think any candidates should pledge money to address the problems of the Ettalong and Umina waterfront," Cr Mehrtens said.
Interview, 11 Jan 2018
Richard Mehrtens, Central Coast Council
Reporter: Jackie Pearson