After an hour of discussion at a specially convened extraordinary meeting, council came full circle and has agreed to continue accessibility work at Bruce Steer pool, Bermagui as was previously planned.
The pool's planned accessible ramp was raised as a matter of urgent business at the council meeting on February 17 with support from Crs Mitchell Nadin, Jo Dodds, Cathy Griff and Tony Allen who called for work to halt while staff provided alternative options including how to proceed with the original design and the financial implications.
When it was discovered that deep piles would be needed to support the proposed concrete ramp, costs increased from a planned $44,000 to around $500,000 and the design and placement of the ramp was changed. But Cr Nadin said the alternative design was "going to look heinous" and that it was "unconscionable to proceed at what is such a pristine location on our coastline".
The plan calls for fibreglass reinforced plastic (FRP) structural and decking elements on (shorter) pre-cast concrete piles and relocation of the ramp to make use of the exposed rock foundation to reduce piling requirements.
The alternative design will fall short of the water at low tide. But it was also clear that if council was to change the design there would be financial penalties, given the materials had been purchased by the contractor.
Cr Griff said the latest design was "environmentally unacceptable" with the "destination itself diminished" by having that structure over a rock shelf.
However the move to review the design and look at alternatives hit its own rock shelf in the form of Cr Allen who decided that he could no longer support Cr Nadin's motion, which he seconded on February 17.
"I has always dreamed of having access along the breakwall but for $500,000 it's way way out of kilter. My conscience tells me we've got to do a project that provides the greatest benefit and least risk to those people and to me its all about safety. There's no safety component on eastern side apart from spending $500,000," Cr Allen said.
Cr Robyn Bain was ready to jump in with a foreshadowed motion that council return to the original plan adding that the access committee, of which she is a member, had considered the matter five times and "five times had approved it".
The planned option had been agreed last year and "reinforced three weeks ago" by the committee, Cr Bain said.
"This compromise (between the desired solution and cost) means there will be a gap between the end of the ramp and the water at low tide," Cr Bain said adding that it had been raised with the access committee at a meeting on October 9, 2020.
Councillors agreed to stick with the current design with Crs Bain, Fitzpatrick, Seckold and Allen voting against Cr Nadin's motion and for the status quo.