Letter: Urunga tidal swimming facility

If I may through your column clarify a statement reported in “Urunga’s Tidal Pool - What Lies Beneath” (Bellingen Courier Sun 14/03/2018) expressing concern by a  member of the public that the cost to remove remnants of the old lido structure had not been factored into costings.

I refer to the statement that “emails were  forwarded to council in 2015 when the feasibility was published including one saying ‘I was stunned to note that there was no mention of the structures that still exist in this area (existing piles that the previous lido sat on and a huge concrete slab sitting on the bottom)’”.

It goes on to say “I cannot believe these piles have been overlooked”.

I believe this is not correct. In Geolinks report on page 45 Section 5.4.1 it clearly states:

“Site 1 – Old lido site (PREFERRED OPTION)

Remnants of the old lido buried by silts may be encountered during the dredging process.”

Estimated costings for the dredging and disposal of the old Lido Site 1 were $150,000  so I would  suggest that the remnants of the old lido structure have been factored into these costings.

The study undertaken and completed by Geolink was presented to council on the 25th March 2015 at a cost of $25,000 approved from section 94 funds allocated by Bellingen Shire Council to commission the feasibility study of the Urunga Tidal Swimming Facility project.

An article in the Coffs Coast Advocate 16th March 2014 stated that the managers of North Coast Holiday Parks (now Reflections) had pledged matching funding for the study. This raised the funding to $50,000 (not the $100,000 that has been bandied about in social media) ensuring that a comprehensive study could be undertaken.

The purpose of the study undertaken by Geolink was to investigate the feasibility, environmental and financial implications of installing/constructing and maintaining a tidal swimming facility within the Bellinger and Kalang River estuaries.

Two sites were considered, with the preferred site being the old lido site.

This was supported by the Urunga Tidal Swimming Facility Action Group and had strong support from the majority of the community.

The study’s purpose and contents were:

“Section 1.2

The Purpose of this Report

The purpose of this study is to investigate the feasibility, environmental and financial implications of installing/constructing and maintaining a tidal swimming facility at Urunga within the Bellinger Kalang River.

The study includes the following components: 

1. Preliminary consultation with Council, relevant government agencies and the community stakeholders;

2. An options assessment of potential locations for the proposed tidal swimming facility;

3. A preliminary environmental investigation of the preferred option(s) identifying potential impacts on water quality, fish habitat, dredging, tidal flows, heritage, visual and safety/risk;

4. A review and assessment of initial and ongoing dredging requirements to maintain the facility;

5. Preparation of a preliminary concept plan of the preferred option(s)

6. Cost estimate of the construction of the preferred option and also ongoing maintenance costs; and

7. Provision of conclusions and recommendations for the project.”

I cannot see any mention where Geolink were commissioned to undertake full pre dredging assessments and review of environmental factors (the study was only preliminary) which will now be undertaken from a successful $112,000 funding application by BSC to the Department of Industry’s Tourism Driver Demand Program on a matching basis.

As a person who uses this area regularly I look forward to the commencement of the first step, that being the pre- dredging assessments being completed, and with all being well to successful applications for further funding to enable  subsequent stages that include infrastructure such as pontoons and gangways.

Daryl Rose