Lake Macquarie projects to share in $14 million windfall | pictures

SEVERAL Lake Macquarie infrastructure projects are in contention for a share of almost $15 million, including a key road upgrade, a Charlestown “smart mall” and a $6 million library in Windale.

The money is from the sale of Lake Macquarie council land in Windale and Bennetts Green, and Labor councillors and senior staff believe a significant amount of it should be spent in Windale.

If Monday night’s budget meeting allocates funds for a Windale library and community hall, the existing library will be demolished and replaced by a $6 million complex with meeting, activity and counselling rooms, “youth activity space” and office space.

“At the moment it’s a little old building that’s past its use-by date,” East Ward Labor councillor Christine Buckley said.

“It will have all the connections to be the newest type of library. This is a community of low socio-economic households and a lot of them don’t have that internet access.”

The new library would be funded with $3.1 million in developer contributions and $2.9 million from the sale of the council land, and be a blueprint for libraries in the rest of Lake Macquarie.

“The new centre will be the first of its type in Lake Macquarie and will become a model for improving literacy and community engagement  in other communities,” Anj Barnett, the council’s library shared services coordinator, said.

Councillors have also been presented with an option to fund a new Windale skate park with car parking, estimated to cost $950,000.

The council sold its land in Windale and Bennetts Green last January, and is armed with $14.7 million of the $20.3 million proceeds to spend on the Windale projects and several others. 

One, a $5.8 million extension of Munibung Road, would connect the Cardiff Industrial Area through the new development at the former Pasminco site to Main Road in Boolaroo, but the council would seek half the funds from the NSW government.

Another project, a $2 million facelift for the ailing Pearson Street Mall in Charlestown, would turn it into a “smart mall” with “plug and play” outdoor digital kiosks and live bus maps and timetables, while $500,000 for rehabilitating Windale’s Scrubby Creek is also on the table.

Upgrades to the Hunter Sports Centre at Glendale are costed at $20 million, but $250,000 would have the extension “shovel ready”.

On Monday night councillors will be given the option to fund the projects to the tune of $9.9 million and place the remaining $4.8 million in a trust, or decide on alternative projects for funding.

A third, unlikely option is to decline all project funding.