SUTHERLAND Shire Council has rejected the suggestion Cronulla is "being covered in concrete".
A spokeswoman said the council engaged coastal engineering and heritage experts and structural engineers to guide the design and construction of the $3 million sea wall and The Esplanade upgrade.
The work has attracted great interest and many positive comments. However, retired road and rail engineer John Brett, of Miranda, expressed a different view in a letter to the Leader.
Mr Brett, who stood as an independent for Cronulla at the last state election, is a daily, early-morning surfer at Cronulla, where he is known as "Major" due to his previous service in the Army Reserve.
In his letter, [page 4] he claimed expansion of The Esplanade towards the sea had reduced the natural rock platform and beach and was likely to cause damage to buildings, wall and beach.
Wave formations would change, resulting in sand being gouged from the beach and dumped in and around the rock pools, he said.
Mr Brett also said the widening of the pathway from Elouera to Wanda was unnecessary and detracted from the environment (see panel right).
Responding to the claims, the council said the existing sea wall, built in the 1920s, had deteriorated and was simply being replaced by another one.
As the sea wall was heritage listed, it had to be maintained, so the new one was built over it, the spokeswoman said.
The council's reason for extending the sea wall about two metres towards the sea was to provide better access to the beach.
Whereas the old wall was almost vertical, providing limited pedestrian access, the new structure would enable full length access, the spokeswoman said.
"The new wall has been constructed in front of, and burying, the old wall," the spokeswoman said.
"This has been done in a way that preserves the heritage of the previous sea wall. Handrails will be provided at a later date.
"The new sea wall steps down to rock rather than having two bleachers, then dropping one-and-a-half metres to rock.
"It should be kept in mind that most of the structure, including and north of the circular stairs, will be under sand." The council does not expect the work to lead to any additional sand movement.
"In the design phase of the sea wall, consultant engineers assessed that no additional scouring would occur as a result," the spokeswoman said. "Council constantly monitors the level of sand in the rock pool.
‘‘In big seas, sand is going to be lost from the beach, something that occurs at all beaches.
‘‘Sand movement along the entire east coast of Australia moves from south to north so inevitably some may end up in the rock pool, while some of it will be drawn out into the ocean only to come back again when conditions change.’’
Another point rejected by the council was that it was reversing precautions taken after the 1950 storm when the sea wall was moved back.
‘‘The section of sea wall that was destroyed in the 1950 storm, and then later set back, is immediately in front of Cronulla park,’’ the spokeswoman said.
‘‘This setback alignment has not changed.’’
EXTRA WIDE PATH
The pathway from Elouera to Wanda is a metre wider to separate cyclists and pedestrians who would share use, the council said.
‘‘It is part of the works that will allow cyclists access to the soon-to-be-built playing fields, skate park and the Kurnell peninsula generally, without the need to use busy Captain Cook Drive,’’ the spokeswoman said.
‘‘The width of the path also takes into consideration that parking in this area is 90 degrees to the kerb, meaning that part of the path will be obstructed by vehicle overhang a significant amount of the time.’’
Wall collapsed in massive 1950 storm
OLD electric light poles were used as props for a temporary structure when the sea wall collapsed in the 1950 storm. This photo, was taken by Alice Miller, a Caringbah resident and member of the Laycock family, who died about 10 years ago. The Observer newspaper reported how surf club members, volunteers and police worked for two days and nights, filling and stacking sandbags to hold back the sea.
Are you happy with the work at Cronulla beach?
See a letter to the editor from Mr Brett: http://www.theleader.com.au/story/1146446/beach-work-unnecessary-expense/?cs=1381