Kiama Downs' Jones Beach reserve fears

Kiama Downs resident Jim Bradley with some of the tree vandalism that has taken place at Jones Beach. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Kiama Downs resident Jim Bradley with some of the tree vandalism that has taken place at Jones Beach. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

When  it comes to community-owned land, the Jones Beach and Cathedral Rocks reserves at Kiama Downs are among the jewels of the South Coast.

However, the area has been plagued with multiple and regular instances of tree vandalism, and has many stairways built from beachfront homes across community land.

While illegal structures, many were in place before there were any plans of management for the area.

On Thursday at 5pm, Kiama Municipal Council will hold a public meeting at Kiama Downs Surf Life Saving Club to discuss a revised management plan for the reserves.

Resident Jim Bradley said the draft plan could set a dangerous precedent should it allow private structures such as stairways, seating and landscaping to be built on community land.

"Should this be allowed to occur then what's next ... a trail bike course behind the dunes or maybe a landing area for helicopter flights for commuters?" Mr Bradley asked.

"Why can't I leave my caravan or boat permanently parked in the local reserve? All of these practices have occurred in recent months."

Mr Bradley said Kiama Council's reluctance to effectively tackle tree vandalism gave "tacit endorsement".

"This should be of real concern to all Kiama residents who truly value the region," Mr Bradley said.

"A most recent aerial survey of the Jones Beach Reserve clearly shows wholesale destruction in the dune restoration vegetation just south of the surf club, as well as the private improvements to the reserve immediately adjacent to some landholders' properties.

"What this really has come down to is that council has neglected to maintain both reserves, apart from obligatory grass cutting."

John Leftwich, president of the Jones Beach Residents Action Group, welcomed the draft plan of management, which would allow stairs to remain should they be upgraded to meet safety standards.

Mr Leftwich said the tree vandalism was of concern to residents near the reserve, but said many of the trees in the reserve were inappropriate.

"The area is overgrown - we have kids getting on there and lighting fires," Mr Leftwich said.

Submissions on the plan of management close at 4.30pm on Tuesday, May 13.

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