NEWCASTLE ratepayers are staring down the barrel of a $1.5 million shortfall to complete the ambitious Anzac memorial walk between Strzelecki Lookout and Bar Beach.
Two of the project's main backers, Newcastle architect Barney Collins and restaurateur Neil Slater, unveiled their plans to councillors last week.
The $5 million project will feature a 200-metre cliff-top bridge with oversized silhouettes of World War I soldiers, with the names of the 10,000 Hunter soldiers and nurses who served inscribed in the bodies.
BHP has already committed $3 million to construct the walk to trig point, just off Wrightson Avenue, but the funds will not take it all the way to Bar Beach car park. The money collected so far also covers a 70-year maintenance budget.
Councillor Nuatali Nelmes said she supported the project in principle but called out the project's backers on their budget.
She said the council was promised two years ago that it would be completely funded by the private sector.
Councillor Stephanie Posniak said the council had a financial responsibility to the community.
The council terminated 90 jobs last year and nine other major projects had already been identified by the community that the council could not afford to fund, she said.
Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy said additional funds from the recent rate increases or the airport could be used, but that debate should be left for another day.
Plans for the cliff-top Memorial Walk between Bar Beach and Strzelecki Lookout will be lodged with the council with its final costings in the next three to five weeks.
Two telegraph poles have already been removed from the Strzelecki Lookout car park and the small building housing electrical demolished and rebuilt to make way for the walk.
BHP and the RSL want the walk built by 2015, marking the 100 year anniversaries of the Gallipoli landing and the start of steelmaking in Newcastle.