Work to start on long-awaited coastal pathway
FORMER Ballina councillor and mayor Alan Brown is pleased work is finally about to start on the long-awaited Coastal Recreational Path.
Ballina Shire Council awarded the tender for the sections from Angels Beach through to the Sharpes Beach car park to Coffs Harbour company B&S Landscaping and Earthworks late last year.
The Coastal Recreational Path will be built on the eastern side of The Coast Rd, and eventually link through to Lennox Head.
Council's project manager Paul Busmanis said work was scheduled to start next month and continue through to May-June, depending on the weather.
He said the first 515m section from Angels Beach to near the Flat Rock tent park would be a boardwalk with the decking made from recycled plastic materials like some of the beach access paths at Lennox Head.
The second 900m section to the southern end of the Sharpes Beach car park would be a footpath with a bridge over Sharpes Creek and another bridge beyond the creek.
The work will also allow for inclusion of Aboriginal cultural heritage signage and seating at a later date.
Council will construct a 450m section of the path connecting the existing Angels Beach underpass to the existing asphalt path at the northern end of the Angels Beach car park.
The current budget for the entire first section of the path is $1.8m.
Mr Brown, 79, said he wasn't sure if he would live to see the day the path was built.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that council has finally decided to get on with the job," he said.
"The ultimate completion (of the path) will be a massive asset to Ballina tourists and locals alike."
The pathway has a long history, dating back about 30 years to an idea to build a cycleway along the state's east coast.
The local path stalled at Angels Beach in the late 1990s with concerns from environmental groups and and members of the indigenous community.
When Phillip Silver was mayor, he put forward the idea to build a shared pathway on the western side of The Coast Rd to break the stalemate.
That shared path was completed last year, linking Ballina and Lennox Head, but also drew criticism from the proponents of the eastern Coastal Recreational Path.
Mr Brown was one of those critical of the decision to build the western path.
He was a councillor back in the late 1990s when the project stalled, and has in recent times been vocal with his frustrations the project wasn't progressing.
While he said he "thought we'd never see it", he did praise the current council for getting the project started.
When the pathway is finished, it will link with the shared path network at the Sharpes Beach underpass, making it possible to ride or walk around Ballina.