John Ajaka returns to Corrimal - with his chequebook

Work on upgrading the Berkeley Community Hall and Senior Citizens' Centre will be brought forward 12 months after Wollongong City Council was given an interest rate subsidy on a $4.3 million loan by the NSW government.

The announcement was the first made by John Ajaka in his role as Minister for the Illawarra.

The Corrimal Community Centre and Library, and Thirroul Beach Kiosk and Pavilion are other facilities that will benefit from the 3 per cent interest rate subsidy provided through the NSW government's Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme.

Mr Ajaka said it was appropriate that his first announcement included a facility in his childhood home of Corrimal.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said after existing funds were added to loan funds, the combined cost of the upgrades would be in the vicinity of $5.5 million.

Work on the $2.1 million internal configuration and rebuild of the Berkeley community centre will now be brought to the 2014/15 financial year.

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The works will include refurbishment of the toilets, offices, kitchen, replacing the roof and insulation as well as a new playground and parking facility.

"At the Corrimal Library and Community Centre, we will upgrade the kitchen, replace floor coverings, upgrade lighting and replace shelving in the library as well as installing new public artworks to reflect the achievements of the Corrimal Senior Citizens.

"At Thirroul, we will refurbish and upgrade the Thirroul Beach Kiosk and Pavilion. Internally, we will upgrade the kiosk so it can expand its service to customers.

"The renewal and refurbishment of these community buildings will see their future life expanded and they will continue to provide great offerings to the local communities."

Meantime, a Wollongong City Council spokesman said the council would continue to review the operations of the Berkeley Neighbourhood Centre, next to the community centre.

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In June, the council's community facilities manager, Jan Noble, warned that the neighbourhood centre's fragile and increasingly costly state meant Berkeley residents faced "tough decisions" over its future.

Draft plans had been prepared for the community centre building to accommodate neighbourhood centre activities.

The spokesman said the council was working with community groups on the proposals.

"Council is working with the Berkeley Development Association and community users of the Berkeley Neighbourhood Centre over its future," the council spokesman said.

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