A popular Sydney beach, which has been closed to the public for two summers already, will remain closed for a third beach season.
The ongoing construction of the new Neilsen Park seawall at Shark Beach in Vaucluse was delayed over a number of issues, including weather and the discovery of asbestos in the old seawall — but locals are pushing for the right to swim, whether the project is finished or not.
The 160-metre concrete seawall at Nielsen Park “reached the end of its serviceable life” in 2016 when it was badly damaged by waves in a storm, the NSW Government said.
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“Shark Beach and the promenade remain closed while the works are being carried out,” it said.
Construction recommenced in May after the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) fast-tracked the process to appoint a new contractor, after an earlier works contract was terminated.
But the originally projected timeframe has blown out — and Vaucluse locals are fuming.
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Adverse weather, high tides and coastal events, heritage concerns and “the discovery of large quantities of asbestos (which) contaminated building material on-site,” are also to blame, according to NSW minister for environment and heritage Penny Sharpe said.
She said the project will be completed no earlier than February 2024, and that “full site completion” including promenade works and landscaping is forecast for April 2024.
This timeframe, too, is subject to adverse weather events and unknown conditions.
Shark Beach at Neilsen Park in Vaucluse will be closed to the public for a third summer in a row. Credit: Getty ImagesHigh waters which damaged the seawall at Nielsen Park have also stalled construction on the upgrade. Credit: DPE
A NPWS spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au: “The site will re-open for swimming as soon as it is safe to allow visitors to access the beach. Netted swimming is available at nearby Redleaf Beach, Watsons Bay and Parsley Bay Beach.”
But locals aren’t satisfied, according to Member for Vaucluse Kellie Sloane, who told 7NEWS.com.au: “I share the community’s frustration and anger over the closure of this beach.”
“It is unacceptable that what was supposed to be an 18-month project has blown out to three summers.”
“I have been lobbying … to explore ways to expedite works and, even if the project is not finalised, to provide a safe means of beach access for local swimmers.”
“National Parks and Wildlife should be congratulated on fast-tracking the process to employ a new contractor. Now we need to ensure they have the financial and organisational capacity to prevent any further impacts on our community.”
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