An aerial photo of the Tweed River showing the scale of the proposed pontoon opposite the Chinderah Tavern. Photo: Tweed Shire Council report.
The Chinderah and wider boating community are set to benefit from a new 40-metre long recreational pontoon to be built on the Tweed River opposite the local tavern.
Tweed Shire councillors have accepted and approved a total of $120,000 funding for the project from the state, the community and council and will soon lodge an application to build it.
The operators of the licensed tavern across the road from the pontoon site have stumped up $25,000 and the tavern’s fishing club a further $5,000 for the project.
Chinderah District Residents Association secured the two amounts from the tavern and club for the project.
Council will budget the same amount while the state government’s Maritime Services has offered $60,000 under its Better Boating Program to match them.
The pontoon is expected to be built and ready by July-September.
During debate on the issue this week, natural resources director David Oxenham told councillors the pontoon’s environmental impact would be minimal.
Mr Oxenham said there was no need to remove any mangroves, or any apparent seagrass on the site itself, and wave erosion from boats using the pontoon would be insignificant.
Cr Katie Milne had questioned the location of the pontoon, which was in the same riverbank area where a proposed controversial mega marina was rejected by the NSW Land and Environment Court in 2008.
Cr Milne, who had successfully campaigned against the marina before she was a councillor, agreed the proposed 40m pontoon was a ‘very much scaled down version’ of it.
But she queried the ‘wisdom of putting it across the road from a tavern’, suggesting it would encourage illegal drink-driving of watercraft by its proximity to the tavern, which would benefit from the project.
Cr Milne urged for a workshop be held to have a closer look at the proposal and its location.
But Cr Warren Polglase said the ‘whole Chinderah community’ supported the project at the site, including the ‘residents association, fishers, boaters, the pub and newsagent’.
Cr Carolyn Byrne said it was not a marina but a pontoon for temporary visitors and therefore parking would not be an issue.
Cr Gary Bagnall said that as a new member of Council’s river committee, he had a growing awareness of issues such as seagrass and fish habitat and he’d been advised the area of the river proposed was the ‘last area where there was seagrass in any significant amount’.
Mr Oxenham said there may be some seagrass adjoining the site.
Cr Milne’s amendment to defer the issue for a workshop was lost and councillors voted 6–1 (Cr Milne against) to accept the funding offers and move the project on.
In his report, Mr Oxenham said the funding that the residents association secured included a commitment of $25,000 from the Taphouse Hotel Group, the operators of the Chinderah Tavern, and $5,000 from the Chinderah Tavern Social Fishing Club.