Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams says she will not support delaying the upgrade of Port Macquarie's southern breakwall but will ensure the community's feedback is given "careful consideration".
In a statement released Saturday (June 25), Mrs Williams said maintenance works are urgent because "the rocks have settled and shifted over time, creating voids which compromise the effectiveness and stability of the structure".
In addition to the maintenance works, NSW Maritime intends widening the shared pathway, improving lighting, improving access and installing a fishing platform in line with Council's Concept Plan.
"I certainly won't be supporting any delays in the commencement of the upgrade works but what I will do is use appropriate channels to ensure that the concerns of the local community are taken into account," Mrs Williams said.
"I [have] expressed concerns raised in relation to the removal of the Norfolk Island pine trees and [NSW Maritime] staff have assured me that during an upcoming site visit we will review the width of the path and consider other design options in consultation with council to retain as many trees as possible.
"In relation to the concerns regarding the impact of any works on the surfing breaks, can I assure the surfing fraternity that we are committed to working with you to ensure your fears are allayed.
"The proposed rock placement does not extend into the adjacent river or into the ocean bed. The footprint of the head of the break wall will remain unchanged. Transport for NSW Maritime have also assured me that they will conduct further consultation with local surfing groups about the breakwall design in the coming weeks."
Mrs Williams also responded to reports that a contract had been signed to supply rocks for the upgrade.
"I understand a number of councillors were questioning why a contract was let to acquire the rocks for the project," she said.
"Transport for NSW Maritime took this step early because any disruption to the supply of rocks could cause significant delays in the project. By securing the rock supply, the aim is to ensure that the breakwall is closed for the shortest duration possible while works are carried out."
The upgrade means the breakwall's well-known painted rocks will be submerged or repurposed. Memorial plaques will be removed prior to work starting and stored to hand back to families.
The New South Wales Government has committed more than $5 million to the upgrade.
In 2016, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council released concept plans on behalf of the then Department of Industry, Lands and Water. The aim was to maximise use of the popular landmark.
Two years later, council wrote to the responsible minister Paul Toole - who is now the Deputy Premier - reminding him of the significant community consultation that had been undertaken and requesting the commencement of the "priority project".
Mrs Williams is urging community members to submit their feedback before the consultation deadline on July 1.
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