Saturday, April 13, 2024

Turtle discovery slows Blue Mountains park upgrade

A major upgrade of South Lawson Park that is set create a significant community recreational space – integrated with bush regeneration, planting of over 35,000 plants and improved protections of the creekline, swamp and wet areas – has been paused by Blue Mountains City Council.

Council says the upgrade, which includes construction of accessible path, a new fenced off leash dog area and nature play area has been impacted by various challenges since December including higher than average rainfall that has affected sediment control measures on site, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected staffing and the delivery of materials.

The pause will allow further community consultation to be conducted on fencing, the shared path and other features, including plans for bush regeneration that will increase the edge of the riparian zone to better protect Lawson Creek and Adelina Falls, Council said in a statement.

Blue Mountains Mayor, Mark Greenhill, said: “South Lawson Park is a significant public open recreation space for the whole community to enjoy. We are upgrading the site to serve the needs of the broad community, as well as dog owners. 

“But challenges with this project, including higher than average rainfall that continues unabated, have meant that construction has had to be paused.”

Council said sediment controls had been improved at the site over the past two weeks following intense storms and persistent wet weather, and further controls would be implemented over the coming days and monitored, to ensure run-off from the construction site does not affect waterways.

Last week it was also discovered that a turtle’s nest had been damaged at the park, during the upgrade works. 

“One of Council’s highest priorities is caring for the environment and the City’s precious biodiversity,” Mayor Greenhill said.

“Staff and Councillors, who care deeply for our World Heritage Area, are upset that this incident has occurred.”

Council is looking at current processes and how contractors are briefed on environmental matters to ensure this type of thing does not occur again, he said.

Council developed the designs for the park upgrade following extensive community consultation since 2018. This included consultation on the Plan of Management and Masterplan adopted in March 2021.

“The upgrade will improve community recreational space in the mid mountains and better protect and enhance safety for the natural area,” Mayor Greenhill said. 

“We know the community continues to have questions relating to this upgrade. Large parts of the site are currently a construction zone – and it is very difficult to envision the final product.  But further consultation will be held to ensure the community are content with plans for various elements of the project.”

Council officers will run four consultation sessions on site, starting at the end of the month.  Dates and times will be publicised closer to the date. There will also be further opportunities for the broad community to make submissions and provide feedback online, on the upgrade of the park.

The project was due to be completed mid-2022, weather permitting, but this timeline is being reviewed due to current challenges. 

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