Shellharbour City Hub critics claim bullying

The debate over the proposed Shellharbour City Hub continues with opponents of the $57 million project now accusing Shellharbour City Council of "intimidating tactics".

Last week it was Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba who accused hub opponents of using strong-arm tactics to gain signatures on the Stop the Hub petition and the council issued statement warning residents "to be on their guard against misleading information" designed to convince people to sign the petition.

Council's general manager Michael Willis said council staff had felt overwhelmed by lobbyists.

Stop the Hub spokeswoman Diane Quinlin said the statements contained in the council media release were "an insult" to Shellharbour City citizens.

"The majority of citizens don't want millions of dollars wasted on another administration building and council chambers," Ms Quinlin said.

Ms Quinlin said library users had made it clear they wanted libraries to be "local" and considered the present branch libraries "too small or too old".

"So it's simple ... spend the available funding on the 2000 square metres of branch libraries, not on building a 2000sqm library on a hill," she said.

"For the past seven years council staff have progressed the City Hub without ever giving the community the chance to say no," Ms Quinlin said.

Meantime, Mr Willis said comments by Miltonbrook chairman Neville Fredericks that the hub facilities should be built on the site of the current administration building "were made in the absence of facts".

Mr Fredericks said Lamerton House was a better location because of its proximity to the Stockland shopping centre.

Mr Willis said in 2008 the council was given a report outlining the limitations of Lamerton House in its current form and the costs associated with purpose-built facilities on the existing site and on a separate site.

Further in 2012, an independent report on the financial and economic analysis of the City Hub found the option of retaining and refurbishing Lamerton House was the least favourable of six options.

"In terms of development costs it was also the worst of the six options at a cost of $58.9 million and had the lowest economic benefit at $7.4 million compared with $21.9 million for the preferred City Hub site," Mr Willis said.

He said if the council kept Lamerton House, it would have to forgo Section 94 developer contributions, would not make money off the sale of the property and would have to borrow more money for inferior civic facilities.

Related stories

• Hub location questioned

• Critics urge referendum

• Hub 'comfortably affordable'

• What residents really think

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