Dapto residents feel government has ‘duped’ them with Kembla Grange jail plan

THE SIGN SAYS IT ALL: Residents Against Dapto Jail members Jess Meza, Ami Beck, Alen Meza and Stephen Beck launch their petition on the main street of Dapto on Sunday. Picture: Robert Peet
THE SIGN SAYS IT ALL: Residents Against Dapto Jail members Jess Meza, Ami Beck, Alen Meza and Stephen Beck launch their petition on the main street of Dapto on Sunday. Picture: Robert Peet

The State Government has “duped” West Dapto residents, with their proposal to build a prison at Kembla Grange.

That’s the view of Stephen Beck.

But Mr Beck, who with wife Ami purchased property in the new Kembla Grange estate, argues others in the same boat also feel “slighted” by the government’s “underhand tactics”.

“It almost feels that the state government has duped us. They knew that there was all these residential developments going in here,” Mr Beck told the Mercury.

“There was no plan for it and all of a sudden they have announced it. So we have all been suckered into buying out at West Dapto and we are all now stuck fighting this proposal.”

The jail that has been proposed is 30 metres from our doorstep.

Stephen Beck

The Residents Against Dapto Jail organiser said he researched extensively before deciding to buy property in Kembla Grange.

“The jail that has been proposed is 30 metres from our doorstep. We certainly don’t want to see it and I know that everyone else that has bought into the estate so far is completely on our side,” Mr Beck said.

“I looked at the Wollongong City Council West Dapto plan and the state government’s plan for what they are calling the fastest growing residential area outside of Sydney.

So we have all been suckered into buying out at West Dapto and we are all now stuck fighting this proposal.

Stephen Beck

“When we looked at that there was no plans for a jail. Certainly if there had of been, we wouldn’t have purchased.”

This view was shared by Jess and Alen Meza, who are just about to start building their house in the nearby Vista Park estate.

“The master plan said nothing about a jail,” Mrs Meza said. “We bought for the community. We were promised schools and great infrastructure.

“We want a place that will be great to raise our kids. There’s no way we would have bought there if we knew it was going to be a jail.”

Residents Against Dapto Jail members were at Dapto town centre on Sunday to launch a petition calling on “reasonable and rational local residents” to oppose the jail.

The campaigners require 10,000 hard copy signatures to have the issue debated in NSW Parliament. Close to 1500 signatures had been collected at time of print, with Mr Beck expecting to double that figure in the coming days.

The group’s No Dapto Jail Facebook page also has over 1600 members. “The people of Dapto have spoken and they don’t want a jail here,” he said.

Brit Bryant, whose No West Dapto Jail change.org online petition has garnered almost 3500 supporters in just three days, called on the government to look elsewhere for a more suitable site.

“We need 10,000 signatures to get it debated. We will bring them 20,000 signatures,” she said.