Residents debate Shellharbour City Hub plan

Divided opinions over Shellharbour council's controversial City Hub plan were aired at a vocal community meeting on Saturday.

More than 50 people packed into Albion Park Rail's Centenary Hall to listen to arguments both for and against the development proposal.

While most people in attendance were strongly opposed to the hub, two residents revealed their support for plans to centralise services.

Kevin Gillis, a long-time volunteer at Tongarra Museum, said the hub would provide a much-needed new home for the museum, offering a more central location and bigger space.

"It is not Albion Park's museum but Shellharbour City's museum [and] Shellharbour deserves a museum in the city and in a central position," he said.

"The present museum is isolated and not suitable; the building has always been too small and badly designed for a museum."

He also noted the current building's lack of storage, work and display space, and cramped volunteer facilities.

Another resident described the hub as a "positive thing" for the region, stating the building had the potential to be a "guiding light" for Shellharbour.

But the meeting's anti-hub sentiment was strong with several ratepayers, along with organiser Cr Kellie Marsh, slamming the plan and its associated costs.

Two speakers called on the council to maintain basic infrastructure such as roads and footpaths, rather than ploughing millions into a new project.

"Councils are there to look after the ratepayer ... if we can't provide basic things for our ratepayers, we shouldn't have a hub," an Oak Flats resident said.

Another speaker asked council staff to account for "enormous" fees paid to consultants for the hub plan.

Stop the Hub group convener Diane Quinlan said the group's 8000-strong petition showed the vast majority of people in the LGA did not want the hub.

She described the partnership between the community and the council as "broken", claiming council staff and some councillors were not effectively representing ratepayers.

The development application for the $57-million facility, to be located at the corner of College and Cygnet avenues, is set to go on display this week. It includes a library and museum, auditorium, meeting rooms, cafe, council chambers and a staff administration centre.

Submissions are invited until July 2.


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