Beach ramp, stairs may be demolished

The St Clair sea wall's ramp and some  of its stairs providing beach access, which could be...
The St Clair sea wall's ramp and some of its stairs providing beach access, which could be removed to avoid ongoing damage from wave action. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
A $250,000 plan to fix battered pieces of the St Clair sea wall ramp and stairs has been unveiled, as the Dunedin City Council confirmed concerns were raised when the beach access walkways were built.

A staff report to be considered at next week's council budget meetings said the sea wall had failed to gain a code of compliance certificate - confirming it met the requirements of the Building Act - when finished in 2004.

That was mainly due to concerns about the durability of a ramp and stairs leading from the Esplanade to the beach, highlighted in December 2004 by the first of a series of failures caused by severe weather, the report by council community and recreation services manager Mick Reece said.

Since then, the ramp and stairs had together been damaged a further five times, most recently when heavy seas and pounding waves last September forced the ramp's closure, after concrete was cracked, exposing steel reinforcing rods.

Mr Reece's report said the performance of the sea wall itself remained satisfactory, but the ramp and stairs needed to be repaired before the structure met building consent requirements.

The structure was designed by council consultant Duffill Watts and King, but the company had since merged with Coomes Consulting in Australia to become CPG, which had not accepted liability for the failings.

Mr Reece said, given the passage of time and other factors, it appeared the chances of a successful outcome from any legal action were "uncertain at best".

And, with any action likely to cost between $60,000 and $150,000, he recommended staff continued to investigate a negotiated settlement instead.

Council staff had met CPG representatives, and were seeking "assistance" in further design work to repair the structure, he said.

The report presented four options for repairing the structure, ranging from redesigning features in their existing locations, to removing those most exposed to the elements, at a cost that could range from $250,000 to $700,000.

Mr Reece recommended the $250,000 option which would mean the ramp and three of four flights of stairs were removed from the most exposed area, between Beach St and Forbury Rd.

One flight of stairs would remain opposite Beach St, in the exposed area, to provide beach access for surfers, as would stairs at the Forbury Rd end of the Esplanade.

The council already had $120,000 available for the work in its 2012-13 pre-draft budget, but that was $130,000 short.

The report would be considered by councillors as part of next week's pre-draft annual plan and long-term plan meetings, before public consultation.



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