Nielsen Park, Shark Beach: Fury as iconic beach closed for two years

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Sydney residents are furious after continuous delays mean summer pass will pass with the iconic Nielsen Park beach — also known as Shark Beach — closed.

The popular and picturesque beach in Vaucluse — in Sydney’s east — was closed in early 2022 after the century-old seawall was damaged by a storm in 2016.

The installation of a new sea wall under the former Coalition state government had begun and was projected to finish in December 2022.

This has not been the case, as the project has been bogged down with delays that include the previous state government tearing up the contract with the previous firm that had been undertaking the work last year.

The decision to end the contract with the civil engineering firm, Delaney Civil that had been hired for the job came after months passed by without significant progress at the beach.

The construction has also been delayed due to the discovery of large amounts of asbestos, and continuously poor weather.

A spokesperson for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) told the ABC that replacing the seawall had become complicated after the asbestos discovery.

“In March 2022, there was an unexpected discovery of material containing asbestos at the site,” they said.

“This required specific clean-up efforts for safety reasons. There was also continued wet weather from March through to July last year.”

After being delayed by its initial December 2022 opening, it was pushed back to April 2023, then to February 2024 and now it’s projected to finish in April 2024.

According to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment latest update, the “contractor’s latest construction program remains unchanged”, with the full completion set to be completed next April.

Locals have been left frustrated by the continuous delays. MP for Vaucluse, Kellie Sloane told news.com.au she shared their frustrations.

“The locals are very frustrated with the delays. There’s been a perfect storm of issues with that site. There were contractual delays, asbestos was discovered and we had the wettest summer on record last year,” she said.

“It’s understandable that locals are frustrated. Some of the locals I have been speaking to have been swimming there for 80 years and they want to swim there again.”

Ms Sloane told news.com.au she is hoping for temporary access for locals for this summer.

“At this stage, I’ve been informed that April is when it’ll be opened. But what I am seeking is for either a safe pathway or a way to get early access this summer,” she said.

“However, what’s most important is that this wall is completed so that it can last another hundred years or even two hundred years. If we can get access to a portion of that this summer, I know they’d be happy with that.”

This sentiment was echoed by the mayor of the local Woollahra Council, Richard Shields who told news.com.au how disappointed he was that families are missing out again.

“Like many locals, I have special childhood memories of summers spent swimming and playing at Nielsen Park,” he said.

“I am disappointed for young families who won’t have access to such a safe and spectacular location to enjoy with their kids until at least April next year.

“There is understandably a great deal of frustration with the ongoing delay to the NSW Government’s construction of a new seawall, which has caused increasing capacity issues at other nearby swimming locations including Camp Cove, and personally I am saddened that this will be the third summer the location will be closed to swimmers.”

Read related topics:Sydney

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