Are Park Beach Sand Dunes Obstructing Vision?

Steven Kitchingstands, who stands at 187 centimetres tall, is against the dunes obscuring vision and impeding patrol flag positions.

 

A LOCAL community member and volunteer surf life saver, Steven Kitching, believes a man-made sand dune at Park Beach is placing people’s lives at risk and is calling for its relocation but the solution is not an easy one.

Mr Kitching spoke with News of The Area about his concerns.

“Sand dredged from the Jetty Marina was placed on the sand dunes in front of the Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club over a year ago.

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“This was done despite suggestions to put the sand further up the beach away from the most used area of Park Beach,” he said.

Mr Kitching said it has been a safety concern for a long time.

According to Mr Kitching the state funded viewing platform in front of the Surf Club no longer affords the views of the beach and water that it previously offered and the lifeguards employed by the council have also stated that it impedes their view from the tower as well.

“This is a Council and volunteer lifeguard patrolled beach and during the surf club season it is overrun with people of all ages using the beach.

“The excess sand placed here inhibits the lifeguard’s view of the water and is a serious safety issue.”

The views are just one of three safety concerns raised by Mr Kitching.

The dune location means that there is no longer adequate space in some locations to place patrol flags effectively meaning that sometimes the positions were compromised.

The third safety concern is around the dunes and access to them by children who love to jump off them.

Despite signs stating ‘Facilities Closed’ to ward off the public Mt Kitching said this hasn’t stopped children jumping off them and with stakes placed below the dunes he fears this is a disaster waiting to happen.

“The stakes are there on the beach under the dune.

“Kids love jumping off them and despite the stakes down on the bottom the kids look at dunes and say ‘wow this is cool.”

Coffs Harbour City Council described the situation as complex and not easily solved but one that is definitely being worked on.

In October 2019 Crown Land undertook a dredging program to open up access from the inner to outer harbour and about thirty thousand cubic metres of sand was placed on Crown Land at Park Beach by sub contractor Dredging Solutions as part of a project sponsored by Crown Land and the materials were placed in accordance with the Review of Environmental Factors that needed co-approval by Marine Parks.

Council explained to News Of The Area the current two metre escarpment was not placed there by the company but was wind borne sand pushed up the embankment onto the crest by unusual North Easterly winds.

Council negotiated with Crown Land to get the company back to do some sand shaping at Crown Land’s cost.

The company returned and pushed the sand back into the high tide mark and spent a week doing that in early 2020.

The wind blew it back again and so between the original placing of the sand and now, vegetation on the western side has completely covered the sand dune.

Council was approached again regarding the heights and the views from the Surf Club and existing tower.

They then went back to Crown Land late last year with the assistance of Council Director Mick Raby who approached Crown Lands and Marine Infrastructure Development Office (MIDO-formerly Marine Parks).

Crown Land Northern Regions supported reducing the berm height, the build up of unwanted material, and they assisted in having MIDO come to the party and fund council to solve the issue.

In early May Council proposed water cannoning to blast underneath the berm with ocean water.

This was the preferred method as it didn’t damage the vegetation.

But the plan was unable to go ahead because the foredune required for using the water cannon was eroded later in May.

So the Council is trying to find another way to lower the height and save the vegetation so the remaining sand doesn’t become wind borne again.

Any new erosion means there is nothing to protect the Surf Club.

Council explained that surf life savers can walk out of the tower and can get on the beach with their vehicles to get line of sight.

Council stated the stakes at the base of the dunes that Mr Kitching is concerned about have caps on them.

Council further commented that if we hadn’t had the sand there we would be in a situation like Byron Bay which is suffering great erosion on Main Beach.

When the sand is typically washed into the beaches later on in the year there will be more opportunities for Council to propose other solutions.

 

By Sandra MOON

 

The stakes placed around the dune are capped but could still pose a danger to children ignoring the “Facilities Closed” signs.

One thought on “Are Park Beach Sand Dunes Obstructing Vision?

  1. In my 25 years at the club and the many times they have pumped the sand over, this has never happened. They pumped too much sand high which they have never done and the usual nor’easter winds did the rest!

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