The "grand vision" of a tidal pool to be sited at the northern end of Oxley Beach has been unveiled
The preferred site will be anchored to Flagstaff headland and will include "a defensive sea wall providing protection from the prevailing swell", according to the feasibility study released on Wednesday July 15.
Along with associated amenities, the pool will feature eight swimming lanes each 50 metres in length, a children's leisure zone and a rehabilitation zone with disabled access.
A tidal pool in Port Macquarie has been discussed for close to half a century with the latest revivification not considered a priority by the current council.
Deputy prime minister and minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development Michael McCormack called for construction on the project to start "very soon".
"These projects with the right engineering and the right specs ... we need to boost jobs, productivity and efficiency in Port Macquarie through the current COVID-19 crisis," he said.
"We need regional communities to bounce back first and bounce back fastest.
"With the entire Port Macquarie community banding together, you get these infrastructure projects up out of the ground and up and running quickly.
"We know that domestic and regional travel is going to crank up more quickly than international travel.
"That means that a lot more people will be visiting and holidaying in Port Macquarie," he said.
Port Macquarie tidal pool champion Kathryn Butler said she was excited and couldn't be happier the project had reached this far.
"My involvement has only been over the last five years. I basically picked up the baton from all the other tidal pool supporters from previous years," she said.
"A tidal pool development application was actually approved in 1991; now it is a reality.
"We have secured state and federal government backing and we've also spoken with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council at a briefing this morning.
"We are hoping that some of the major hurdles have been cleared," she said.
"This pool is a gift to the people of Port Macquarie and will be a valuable asset."
Ms Butler described the Oxley Beach site as "perfect" adding that the tidal pool will become a "tourist magnet".
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams called on council to support the project.
"The funding is there," she said "and we understand there are issues around maintenance (once the project is completed) but I'd ask anyone to look at these site drawings today and suggest this is not going to be great for Port Macquarie.
"I am confident councillors will have a rethink if this project is a priority for their community.
"There are thousands of local residents who can't wait for this tidal pool to happen."
Mrs Williams congratulated Mrs Butler and Fred O'Toole who "really pushed this idea at the grassroots level in Port Macquarie".
The MP said the original 18,000 people (who signed a supportive petition) would have another 18,000 people now joining the campaign.
"I know this will be an amazing asset for Port Macquarie. It is just outstanding that this community has done the hard work," she added.
Federal MP Pat Conaghan praised the work of the designers and architects on the project.
He said the tidal pool would benefit local residents - including the elderly - while also being a drawcard for tourism.
"This is something the community has wanted for almost four decades," he said.
"This is a jewel in the crown and I am excited for the next steps.
"I look forward to sharing this with the local community in the near future."
Architect Nicole Larkin and engineer James Carley from the University of NSW were involved in preparing the feasibility study.
Mr Carley said Oxley Beach makes for a good site for a tidal pool.
"As an engineer I look at the headlands, the shapes of the bays ... and this is a good site from a coastal engineering point of view," he said.
"It will not have a major impact on the headland; it integrates into the existing headland.
"There is a reasonable amount of shelter," he said.
Ms Larkin said a number of important factors combine to create the best outcome for a pool.
"We look at how we can create a place that is protected to swim in but that also creates the aesthetics," she said.
"There is a lot of heritage here (in and around the proposed site). We needed to keep and conserve the experience in the space.
"We include things such as the views and maintaining the features of the existing landscape but also with good accessibility."
The next steps toward the project starting is to gain approval before it can move to the detailed design phase.
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