The sea wall is forecast to cost $24.85 million with $13.84 million to be covered by private land-holders – a contribution of 56 per cent.
A Northern Beaches Council spokesman told the Herald on Wednesday that a small number of owners “have raised funding as an issue for their works”.
Council is meeting with these residents and their neighbours to see construction progress “as needed and in a co-ordinated way”, he said.
Neighbouring owners who live between each pocket of public land are required to work in groups.
The council said 40 per cent of properties are yet to submit a development application, but all others have been approved.
“We are still not 100 per cent of the way through the complexities,” Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan told the Herald.
“The issue of what happens when a resident can’t or is unwilling to be involved remains vexed and what we are still trying to work through.”
Council chief executive officer Ray Brownlee said it had been a “long and arduous process”.
“I am pleased to see construction for the first collection of residents who have been able to work together to get their portion under way, with further residents due to start in the coming months,” he said.
Resident Bob Orth is within that first group of 10 properties, collectively paying roughly $3 million to build a 130m stretch of sea wall entirely on private land between Stuart and Wetherill streets.
Each of the stakeholders signed a commitment to fund the project before work commenced.
He said the council and the NSW government had agreed to each pay 10 per cent of construction costs, but $300,000 of additional costs, including reports and legally establishing a company, had arisen.
“They are excluded from the 20 per cent contribution,” he said. “We are pushing to get that included because you couldn’t get the wall without it.”
“It’s a sensational place to live. We all want to stay here but if you walk away, you’ve got a place with a collapsed beachfront, you’re not going to sell it for much,” he said.
“You’re better to stick it out and fix it and develop something that’s secure.”
UNSW coastal researcher Dr Mitchell Harley said, in terms of preventing erosion to houses behind the sea wall, he had “faith that it’s going to be effective”.
“It’s to provide a way to dissipate the wave energy that breaks at the shore along the beach and could potentially cause erosion in extreme storm events,” he said.
However, Dr Harley said it is a “stopgap solution” to legacy issues made more than a century ago, such as in Collaroy where houses were built “inappropriately” close to the coast.
“I certainly don’t like seeing sea walls built in natural settings,” he said.
“We should be learning from our past mistakes and being proactive and not building in these zones which are known to naturally fluctuate, particularly in light of climate change and sea levels rising.”
Almost 400 metres of wall has been completed or is under construction.
Public works have finished at Collaroy car park and additional works to the north of Wetherill St are expected to begin in March.
The mayor, who has previously described the Collaroy-Narrabeen project as a “wicked problem” spanning 40 years, said it has “broken new ground” and will set a precedent for other areas facing similar coastal challenges such as Wamberal on the NSW Central Coast.
“Hopefully our efforts, and those of the residents of this strip, will make it easier for others impacted by coastal issues in other parts of the state to protect their homes in future,” Mr Regan said.
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