Kiama Hospital site sell-off faces opposition

Against: Kiama councillor Neil Reilly with Louise Summerhayes and Barbara McClure holding their petition opposing the sell-off of eight blocks.
Against: Kiama councillor Neil Reilly with Louise Summerhayes and Barbara McClure holding their petition opposing the sell-off of eight blocks.

Kiama councillor Neil Reilly has called on the council to scrap plans to sell part of the Kiama Hospital site for residential development, the proceeds of which would be put towards the council’s $62million plans for an aged care centre of excellence on the site.

The council estimates the sale of the eight residential lots would generate $1.2million for the project ‘‘while also providing quality blocks of lands for residential needs’’.

The section of the hospital site can’t be developed for aged care use because of strict fire regulations governing aged care developments.

In December, the council agreed to buy the Kiama Hospital site from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District for $2.82million. However,  it will also have to spend an estimated $2.6million remediating the site of asbestos contamination.

Residents have collected 1500 signatures for a petition opposing the sell-off of residential land.

Cr Reilly has lodged a notice of motion to be debated at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

He said the contribution of the land sale towards the funding of the project was less than 2per cent of the cost, but the area in question covered 20per cent of the hospital site.

‘‘The second reason is that council owns the land comprising Bonaira Reserve and will own the land of the new aged care centre of excellence,’’ he said.

‘‘To divide those parcels of council land would severely limit any expansion of the centre of excellence.’’

Cr Reilly said he believed the rules regarding fire zones could change.

‘‘If we take it those regulations are set in concrete forever we could regret what may happen.

‘‘More than 1500 people have signed this petition...it is in our job description as councillors to represent the community.’’

Cr Reilly did not agree with the argument the council needed the money to provide cashflow for the early stages of the project.

‘‘We have $42million under investment. I think we can find money to replace that fairly easily. I doubt that start-up funding is as crucial as has been represented,’’ he said.

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