“GET a grip Wollongong.” That was the response from Kiama MP Gareth Ward over calls for the review of the projects shortlisted for the Restart NSW Illawarra Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Ward, who oversaw the initial application process, has reacted strongly to calls for a review after the proposed expansion of the WIN Entertainment Centre into a convention and entertainment centre was rejected by Infrastructure NSW.
Venues NSW, which manages the entertainment centre, told the Illawarra Mercury it would write to Infrastructure NSW seeking a review of the decision of how a car park in the Nowra CBD was one of 20 projects shortlisted in preference to the convention centre that could bring in as much as $12 million annually to the region.
“I make absolutely no apology for ensuring Kiama, Wingecarribee and Shoalhaven were included in the catchment area for these funds,” Mr Ward said.
“The proposal for the WIN Entertainment Centre did not meet the criteria of the Infrastructure Fund.
“The entertainment centre proposal did not fully comply with the guidelines.
“It said that the project needed to be new infrastructure or a structure.
“I think some of comments made by Wollongong individuals showed their designs around wanting the money.
“Sometimes when they want it, it suits them to stand-alone as a region and other times they want to be part of the five local government areas when it suits them.
“Get a grip Wollongong.”
The WIN Convention Centre was one of 124 expressions of interest and did not make the shortlist of 20 and one of 73 that did not meet the eligibility criteria.
The Shoalhaven has had three projects shortlisted for a $24 million share of the $100 million Restart Illawarra fund.
Shoalhaven City Council had put forward a list of a dozen projects and two were accepted, along with the Noah’s Shoalhaven family support centre.
Mr Ward defended questions which were being raised over Noah’s Shoalhaven family support centre.
The proposal plans to establish an early intervention family support centre at the University of Wollongong Shoalhaven Campus.
Its submission described it as a one-stop-shop for families of children with higher support needs or a disability.
At the moment Noah’s Shoalhaven is spread across three different buildings in Nowra and the proposal will combine all support services and administration at the one location.
“It is a partnership with the Wollongong University to further research into children with disabilities,” he said.
“That sector has grown so much over the past five or 10 years, as seen by the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – it is a growing sector.”
“I fully support something like this.”
Local residents are also reminded that the Shoalhaven community forum meeting for the Restart NSW Illawarra Infrastructure Fund process will be staged on Monday, August 26 at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre starting at 6pm.