Council enacts emergency plan to save waterfront wall

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
VideoMarlston waterfront cracks

Experts are being flown in from the Eastern States as Bunbury City Council forks out close to $400,000 in emergency funding after fears a waterfront wall would collapse, bringing down a two-storey building.

The council was forced to take swift action after Bunbury city councillor and Taffys store owner Sam Morris is understood to have discovered a massive crack in the Marlston Waterfront’s boardwalk.

The cracks are visible on the Marlston Waterfront boardwalk.
Camera IconThe cracks are visible on the Marlston Waterfront boardwalk. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

Mayor Gary Brennan has declared the situation an emergency telling the council his main concern was “the very likely event” the entire seawall would collapse and “compromise the integrity” of the building adjacent to it.

It is not known how long the ground underneath the boardwalk has been deteriorating and if the damage is linked to a storm which caused significant damage to the waterfront’s jetty in June last year.

The building at risk is home to Cr Morris’ popular candy store, The Bayview Bar, a glass gallery and studio and the Aristos restaurant.

In response to a question about the criteria in declaring an emergency during the council’s meeting this week, Cr James Hayward said authorising the $375,000 in emergency expenditure was “common sense”.

“The cost of recovery to the city if that wall was to have collapsed or those buildings did become compromised is significantly more money than this,” Cr Hayward said.

“It is something that had to be done, very, very urgently.”

Despite the concern, the area remained open to the public yesterday with Mr Brennan telling the South Western Times there was no immediate danger to the public.

The cracks are visible on the Marlston Waterfront boardwalk.
Camera IconThe cracks are visible on the Marlston Waterfront boardwalk. Credit: Kate Fielding / South Western Times

“But we need to act quickly to prevent that occurring,” Mr Brennan said.

“We simply were not prepared to run the risk of delaying any works because the advice that I’ve received is that when failure occurs, it occurs very rapidly.”

He said he could only speculate about how bad the situation could have been if the damage was not discovered.

“Worst case scenario, it could have been that we had the buildings along that section of the walk undermine, but that’s just worst case scenario, nobody knows that for sure,” he said.

Business owners in the area appeared unfazed by the turn of events, including Aristos owner Athena Papandroulakis who said seeing the crack was surprising but “it was lucky they found it when they did”.

After inquiring locally, the council was forced to look interstate for a company with the “experience and capacity” to carry out the restoration works.

“There was a company based in Queensland who had the equipment and the knowledge and experience to carry out that work and they were engaged to do so,” Mr Brennan said.

“They were mobilised last Thursday, they’ll be there towards the end of this week to carry out the work to stabilise the wall.”

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