By LEIGH PRITCHARD
THE new boat marina at South Grafton is near completion and will boost the usage of the Clarence River, according to Clarence Valley Council engineering client services manager, Col Harbidge.
"The marina will encourage people to make better use of the Clarence River, it is tremendous for the Clarence Valley," Mr Harbidge said.
He said work on the site began in October last year and would be completed in two weeks.
"It was a long process from the concept and design work, to getting the funding and construction," Mr Harbidge said.
He said the project cost $525,000 ? $15,000 under budget ? and was funded by local, state and federal governments. Mr Harbidge said the project involved building a main mooring facility, with pontoon and pylons, a major retaining wall, fence and boat ramp, restoring a jetty and replacing the road from the river to Through Street, South Grafton. In consultation with the community, Mr Harbidge said the former Grafton City Council found a strong need for a marina on the South side of the Clarence River.
Mr Harbidge said the marina replaced the wooden wharves which had deterio- rated over a 20-year period.
Mr Harbidge said two 25metre vessels or two eightmetre vessels could be moored at the pontoon at one time.
The owner of Great Time Cruises, Gordon Smith, has been critical of the siting of the new marina, saying that because it is on the upstream side of the Grafton Bridge, it will be inaccessi- ble to most sailing vessels.