A ceremonial sod-turning has marked the beginning of work to build a “long overdue and well-deserved” new library at Warilla.
Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba broke the ground on the $5.6 million project on Monday, with early work at the site expected to begin on Tuesday and construction due for completion by the end of next year.
The controversial new library will be built at Keith Fletcher Park, behind Warilla Grove Shopping Centre, and replace the existing facility on New Lake Entrance Road.
Councillor Saliba said library services had “come a long way in recent years”.
The mayor grew up in Warilla and her first library was “a single-car garage on Shellharbour Road”.
“How far we’ve come since then – this library will be a flexible, modern and welcoming space that feels like a ‘community living room,” she said.
“There’s never been a purpose-built library in Warilla and I think that it is long overdue.”
The new facility will also be larger than the existing library, spanning more than 900 square metres of indoor and outdoor space.
It will also feature a technology hub, with free Wi-Fi and computer access, as well as dedicated children and youth spaces.
The plans for the facility were approved a year ago, despite concerns about flooding and growing costs.
At that time, the budgeted cost was $3.64 million.
Flood concerns have been a major sticking point for community members against the plans.
However, council staff said the flood risks were defined as “low” and that the structure would be able to withstand the forces of floodwater.