‘Not in our backyards’: West Dapto residents to fight proposed jail site

Sarah Lau - with 15-month-old daughter, Zali - opposes the potential prison. Picture: Adam McLean
Sarah Lau - with 15-month-old daughter, Zali - opposes the potential prison. Picture: Adam McLean

Not in our backyard. That’s the message from residents living near the potential site of a new maximum-security jail at Kembla Grange.

Dozens of residents, including many young families, call the suburb’s newly-built Lynden View estate home.

It’s just a short drive, via the increasingly-busy West Dapto Road, from the earmarked jail site; too close for comfort for some residents.

Many, including Lyndel Boardman, nervously await more details. Ms Boardman has lived on Rainbird Drive for 15 months and the prison proposal has her concerned.

“Not keen at all, especially with having little kids around growing up in this estate,” the 34-year-old told the Mercury upon hearing the plan.

[We] definitely don’t want that in our backyards, especially when we need another school out here.

“We’ve got a lot of young families around here, so it [the jail plan] obviously makes us a bit nervous, having that so close by.

“I understand it’ll provide a lot of jobs in the area, but I’d rather they chose a different area.”

Ms Boardman said residents would use any community consultation period to ensure their voices were heard and flagged a petition against the proposal was in the pipeline.

“[We] definitely don’t want that in our backyards, especially when we need another school out here,” she said.

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Ms Boardman’s home sits in stage one of what has been flagged as a five-stage development. Houses are expected to be built on vacant land between her street and the potential jail site.

“There will be more and more residents … coming closer to it [the jail],” she said.

Just up the road, Sarah Lau kept a watchful eye on her 15-month-old daughter, Zali, as she told the Mercury: “I’m not thrilled about it.”

“I assumed it would be further away from residential [homes],” Ms Lau, 32, said. 

Bob Purches, who lives at Avondale, was also opposed.

“People don’t want to be living close to a jail,” Mr Purches, 72, said.

“You say it’s zoned industrial, look out behind it [at] how many estates you’ve got going in there.

‘’In 10 years’ time that’s going to be all houses out there and they’re going to be up against a jail; no way.”

On the other side of the proposed site, Mary Milevski – who owns Dapto Sands and Supersoils on West Dapto Road – echoed the sentiment.

“If it can go somewhere else, we’ll be happy,” she said.