Shellharbour’s sports fields leased for $1 to allow for Albion Park Rail bypass work

The temporary lease for part of the Croome Regional Sporting Complex will give Roads and Martime Services access to the land, so they can start relocating facilities. Picture: Robert Peet.
The temporary lease for part of the Croome Regional Sporting Complex will give Roads and Martime Services access to the land, so they can start relocating facilities. Picture: Robert Peet.

The state roads authority will rent parts of Shellharbour’s sporting fields for just $5 for the next five years, as it begins work on the Albion Park Rail bypass project.

Councillors voted this week to instigate the $1-a-year lease, also supporting a move to put the bypass “blackmail” saga which dogged the council’s final meetings ahead of the election behind them.

The temporary lease for part of the Croome Regional Sporting Complex will give Roads and Martime Services access to the land, so they can start relocating facilities which will be displaced when the bypass cuts through the complex.

These include the Cricket and AFL field amenities, Rugby League amenities and part of the field, the grass netball courts and the equestrian area.

According to council staff, the RMS argued a $1 nominal lease was fair, as they would be paying the construction and relocation costs for these facilities.

These will be newer, better equipped and more compliant with sports and safety standards than the city’s existing sporting amenities, a council report said.

Councillor John Murray said he was supportive of the ultra-cheap lease as it would allow the bypass project to “keep moving ahead”.

Before the lease can be signed off, it will be placed on public exhibition for 28 days.

Later in the council meeting, new Liberal councillor Nathan Cattell used his first notice of motion to smooth things over between the council and Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra, Gareth Ward.

During the election campaign, Mr Ward claimed the council was “blackmailing” RMS into funding the smaller Albion Park Bypass (a council project) by delaying property acquisition of land for the Albion Park Rail road.

On Tuesday night, Mr Cattell moved that “councillors continue to support the professionalism and hard work of the General Manager and staff moving forward to satisfactorily resolve all outstanding property issues involving the Albion Park Rail Bypass”.

The council also voted to invite Mr Ward to a briefing on the bypass.

Mr Ward would be briefed on the details and background about work already done by Council staff in relation to planning and negotiations with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

Shellharbour City Mayor Marianne Saliba said she was pleased to extend the invitation to Mr Ward.

“I’m looking forward to meeting with the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast to iron out some of the issues that Shellharbour has in relation to the extension of the M1 which is the Albion Park Rail bypass,” Cr Saliba said.

“We really need to sit down and talk about some of those issues and make sure that the residents of Shellharbour are not being taken for granted and to ensure that we get a good outcome for everybody,” she said.