Fishers angling for authorities to ramp up repairs
THERE has been no firm date set for repairs to what is arguably the best place to launch a boat on the Clarence River between the estuary and Grafton.
The Sportsmans Creek boat ramp at Lawrence was a mecca for boaties seeking to launch their vessels in its comparatively sheltered waters.
Lawrence publican John Hoy said boaties voted with their feet when it came to choosing the best place to launch.
"On a Saturday morning you would often see three or four cars towing boats at a time heading to the boat ramp,” he said.
But all that came to an end when the boat ramp was closed during the construction of the new Lawrence Bridge about three years ago.
Mr Hoy said during the construction of the bridge, the boat ramp was damaged and repair attempts had failed.
"They dumped a load of concrete on it, but that was just a waste of time,” he said.
"It didn't improve anything and the ramp was still unable to be used.”
NSW Roads and Maritime Services has promised the repairs will be completed but has there is no time frame.
"The boat ramp was damaged during the construction of the new Sportsmans Creek Bridge, and Roads and Maritime Services is committed to making the necessary repairs so it may be reopened,” a RMS spokesperson said.
"RMS will continue to keep the community informed on the progress of these works.”
LETTER: Promised works delayed by bridge process
ONCE upon a time, on a river not far away, access to Sportsmans Creek boat ramp at Lawrence became difficult. It was July 2011 and Lawrence Fishing Club wrote to Clarence Valley Council explaining the difficulties involved with the ramp and approaches and requested something be done for safety sake.
After some delay, injuries and boat accidents, council wrote to the club in November 2012 that a survey had been completed and they were looking at design for a jetty. They asked the club for input.
No progress was made until the club was advised in March 2013 that there was 'a bit of a complication' as the Sportsmans Creek bridge was to be replaced. All progress was put on hold pending completion of the bridge.
In February 2015, council was advised by press release it had received a grant for the funding of a pontoon at the ramp and in October advised the club it had decided to include a pontoon and associated works in with the bridge tender. It assured the club the grant for the pontoon would be available until the end of 2017 'if need be'.
In June 2016, council supplied the club with concept plans for pontoon works and associated improvements to Flo Clark Park - the gangway, pontoon, pathway and fish-cleaning facility to be completed under the Boating Now program, and in November requested input for the final treatment/arrangement of the boat ramp at Sportsmans Creek.
Then it all fell over. The club received a note from council stating there was an issue as 'the contractor had significantly damaged the ramp'.
At a meeting with council in March 2018, it was explained there would be no progress until the ramp was repaired/replaced by the contractor, Delaney Civil. The company has attempted some repair of the ramp but not to council's satisfaction. Council expect protracted negotiations between RMS and Delaney Civil and no access to the park or the ramp will be available until the old bridge is demolished, as part of the contract, sometime in 2019.
Council advises it is now responsible for the building of the pontoon and it has no funding for the cleaning table, washdown area, rigging bay or driveway as shown in the concept design. There is also doubt that funding for the pontoon will still be available.
The construction of the bridge has resulted in the complete loss of a sheltered boat ramp and the adjacent park. Surely the contractor and RMS will have some consideration for other works that await the outcome of their negotiations.
Lawrence Fishing Club