A Nelson Bay shopfront has been cleared ready to to create a thoroughfare between the CBD and the waterfront but further work has been delayed due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
While Port Stephens Council has laid the groundwork for the Yacaaba Street extension it confirmed it won’t press ahead with work before Christmas as previously planned.
"The decision to delay commencement of the construction phase until the new year will ease the pain for business and residents over the busy Christmas and New Year period, as they won't be stuck with a half completed project during this time,” the council’s capital works section manager Phil Miles said.
“Council has made this call after experiencing delays with third party approvals and utility relocation – both issues outside of council's control.”
The shop, previously home to a Korean restaurant for tourists, and the Tomaree Business Chamber, was demolished on September 26. The council said while it could resume work soon, it had chosen not to.
"While these issues are expected to be resolved prior to Christmas, the first stage of construction will involve significant earthworks and heavy vehicle movements - neither of which are conducive to the activities of residents, visitors or businesses during the busy lead up to the Christmas holiday period,” Mr Miles said.
“There is also no desire to shut down a half completed project site over the Christmas to January period as this would leave both an eyesore and impact pedestrian access during this high visitation period.
"Instead, Council will ensure that during the holiday period the site is left in as tidy a state as is practicable with pedestrian amenity and access sufficiently catered for.”
The project was funded through a share in a $6 million loan that former mayor Bruce MacKenzie had pushed for before retirement in September. It had been his hope to have the project complete for the holidaymakers at Christmas.
Mr Miles said a slight pause now would enable the council to resume work in earnest in the New Year.
"Rest assured, this project is still very much a priority for council and construction will commence as soon as practical after the busy period finishes,” he said.
“This will deliver the best result for residents, businesses and visitors alike."
The project has long been proposed as a means of revitalising the CBD.
Advocacy group Nelson Bay NOW, formed in August 2016, brought renewed focus to the project. They believe the Yacaaba Street extension will lure more tourists into the CBD, from d’Albora Marina, because of the visual link and pedestrian thoroughfare.