What an amazing start to 2020 it has been!
With the St Helens Mountain Bike Trails now open, we certainly noticed an increase in mountain bikes over the summer holidays.
It's been great to see so many people from so many walks of life enjoying the trails; from the hardcore 'shredders' to the tots on balance bikes, from the local kids to the international tourist, it's been a busy but exciting summer!
I'm proud to say though that Break O'Day Council will not be resting on its laurels now that the trails are open and we have some new projects in the works.
The one I am most excited about is the extension of the Georges Bay multi-user track. At the moment the multi-user track starts just past Lions Park, on the corner of St Helens Point Road and the Tasman Hwy, and follows Georges Bay all the way round to the bottom of Lawry Heights Road.
From here, users then have to cross the road and go up over Kings Park before reaching St Helens township. This new extension will start at the bottom of Lawry Heights and continue around the bay via boardwalk and gravel track with a separate bridge sitting alongside the current bridge which will take riders and walkers to the St Helens Wharf area. How awesome!
This will be a great addition to the Townlink Trail in the St Helens Mountain network as it means riders and walkers can bike or walk all the way from the Trailhead at Flagstaff to the St Helens township off the road.
Old Scamander bridge
There is one activity however that we are hearing remains of community concern and that is the demolition of the Old Scamander Bridge, so let's get some facts on the table as many of the comments we are hearing are simply not correct.
The Old Scamander Bridge was and still is owned by State Growth and became obsolete in 1990 with State Growth opting to leave the bridge in-situ for a limited time and provide ongoing maintenance. At no time has the council been the owner of the bridge and responsible for its upkeep.
The option to keep the bridge [old Scamander bridge] however would require the council to fork out $1million to ensure it was safe for pedestrians to use plus any ongoing maintenance costs.Mick Tucker
In October 2016 State Growth wrote to us including a report outlining their options for the Old Scamander Bridge, developed by Jacobs. This report presented four options for the bridge with the state government's preferred option being to completely remove the bridge and provide an improved pedestrian safety barrier on the new bridge. This option meant there was no cost to the council or our ratepayers. The option to keep the bridge, however, would require the council to fork out $1million dollars to ensure it was safe for pedestrians to use plus any ongoing maintenance costs. At the December 2016 council meeting Councillors voted unanimously "that council advise the Department of State Growth that this is their issue and that council does not have strong views on whether the Old Scamander bridge is demolished or left as is, noting that council was of the view in 2001 that the bridge should be removed, a position which was supported by the Scamander Community Development Association at the time."
This option meant that the bridge would be removed completely and a new pedestrian safety barrier constructed on the new bridge.
Some community members wrote to us expressing they would like to keep the bridge so we held a Community Forum on June 26 at the Scamander Sports Complex with representatives from State Growth.
The meeting was attended by about 40 people who listened to the options and reports for the bridge and then the majority voted to demolish the bridge and lobby the state government to undertake works on the Scamander foreshore once the bridge was removed.
A community steering group was then established for this project and they have been working with the community services manager.
The group developed a concept plan which included a footpath and interpretive signage reflecting the history of all the bridges that had previously been in this location. The group was successful in lobbying the state government and securing funding for these works once the bridge is demolished.
So in conclusion, Yes the old Scamander Bridge will be demolished this year however we will be getting a new pedestrian safety barrier on the new bridge and funding for foreshore works. I am sure the majority of residents would agree that this is a great outcome.
- Mick Tucker is the mayor of Break O'Day Council.