The proposed reconstruction of a lake swimming area at Belmont has prompted a lot of public interest.
The jetty and nets that formed the previous swimming enclosure were wiped out in the 2015 superstorm. Council has resolved to replace the swimming area and have prepared six options. These range from a simple boat exclusion zone marked by buoys to a fully enclosed three-sided jetty reminiscent of the former swimming baths that stood in the area until 1982. Councillors were briefed on these options last week and will receive a full report from staff before considering the recommendations in April. Four of the six options include barriers that would prevent large marine animals from entering, using either netting or an eco-friendly barrier that has been developed and trialled in WA.
While there is no hard evidence of more shark activity in Lake Macquarie, an increase in anecdotal reports of sightings have created a perception of danger and as a Council we have to respond to those heightened fears.
I attended a public rally at the weekend where residents spoke in support of the fully enclosed baths option. I understand their enthusiasm for this proposal, as many people have fond memories of the baths that occupied the site. There is, as you would expect, a significantly higher cost associated with this option but council will weigh up all factors before making a decision.