The proposed $434 million redevelopment of the Shoalhaven District Hospital will come at the cost of Australia's first dedicated park.
A leaked internal Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District document has stated the proposed redevelopment will take part of what is known as Nowra Park or the Recreation Area adjacent to the existing Shoalhaven Hospital.
In a memo to staff, ISLHD CEO Margot Mains said Shoalhaven City Council had given "interim in-principle support for the acquisition of Nowra Park".
That will "enable more new buildings in a more rapid construction ... enabling the current hospital to function with minimal disruption, effectively creating a greenfield opportunity for the redevelopment"," Ms Mains said.
In the memo, Ms Mains said planning for the Shoallhaven District Memorial Hospital redevelopment had taken "a major step forward with the appointment of a project management team".
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"This will enable the next phase of our planning to commence which will include staff focus groups and community consultation," she said.
"We will establish regular communication channels to let you [staff] know what's happening throughout the project and how you [staff] can be get involved."
The memo says there has long been a plan for the hospital "that will see the creation of a hub for the Shoallhaven area providing the majority of emergency, critical care, acute, sub-acute and non admitted services".
That would mean reducing the need for patients to be transferred to Wollongong or Sydney.
Recently, access to the hospital during the construction of the new $342 million Shoalhaven River bridge has also been questioned, while the issue of parking around the hospital precinct has also been raised, A number of surrounding neighbourhood streets are regularly congested with parked cars, while the new $11.8 million multi-storey car park at the hospital largely sits vacant.
Local resident Bill Hancock who lives adjacent to the southern end of the park, has long been a passionate fighter for Australia's first dedicated park, Nowra Park.
Over the years, the park area has seen a range of local historical events, including the first annual exhibition of the Shoalhaven Agricultural Society in 1878.
A well was established in 1882 to improve Nowra's water supply, the first cricket game was held on the ground on Good Friday 1883 and a Sydney XI was captained by Dave Gregory, who had the distinction of being Australia's first captain, with the local team taking the win, while in January 1885 an All England XI played a game against a local team of 22.
Former Shoalhaven Councillor Jim McCrudden raised these very concerns in December 2012 - then NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said an agreement to acquire most of Nowra Park to enable the future creation of a health precinct would future-proof Shoalhaven Hospital's campus for potential expansion and secure the area around it for the development of health infrastructure. Cr McCrudden described it as a "blatant land grab".