IF a proposal for a Shaolin residential and tourism complex at Comberton Grange, south of Nowra, fails to find support, then a decommissioned Jerrara Dam site could be an option, according to Kiama councillor Mark Way.
On Tuesday night, Cr Way attempted to have Kiama council officers approach the Shaolin Temple proponents to gauge their interest in the Jerrara site should the Shoalhaven proposal fall through.
The $360 million Shaolin complex at Comberton Grange is now being assessed by the Planning Assessment Commission, eight years after it was first proposed.
“I’ve been monitoring the situation and they seem to be having a lot of trouble getting the proposal through,” Cr Way said.
“As most people are aware, I wanted to have a fishing and eco-resort at Jerrara Dam, but I’d also like to know if the proponents of the Shaolin Temple would be interested in that area. A development like that would be great for tourism and something positive for that area.”
In October 2013, Kiama councillors voted 8-1 to decommission Jerrara Dam, arguing other options for the 53-hectare earth-fill embankment dam were too expensive.
Cr Way voted against the move.
In recent years, the dam has regularly been the subject of emergency warnings or “amber” alerts during heavy rain.
While the integrity of the dam wall was never in question, the NSW Dam Safety Committee had concerns – based on updated climate forecasts – that the dam could overtop in extreme weather circumstances.
Kiama Council has factored $1.3 million into future budgets for the decommissioning to take place, while cost estimates to raise the embankment or widen the spillway ranged between $3.1 million and $3.6 million.
Kiama Mayor Brian Petschler said design works for the decommissioning were complete and the council would soon go to tender for the work, which the council hoped to have complete by the end of 2015.
Cr Petschler said that once decommissioned it would be up to the council to decide what happens next at the Jerrara Dam site, whether it was left as a reserve, turned it into a caravan park – or a Shaolin Temple.