STOCKTON RSL and Citizens Club could turn out to be a much needed lifeline for the suburb’s child-care service that is under threat from worsening erosion.
City of Sydney RSL & Community Club, that amalgamated with the Stockton club in 2016, has confirmed it is investigating if it can use surplus land for a child-care facility.
There are fears Stockton’s child-care centre, which has been operating for more than 30 years, will become the first victim of the suburb’s erosion woes, with locals warning it is a matter of when – and not if – the building will start to crumble into the ocean.
A powerful swell in January saw waves pounding at the edge of the centre on Barrie Crescent and caused it to close for several days due to safety risk. More than 15 metres of beach washed away during the storms and and left less than a metre of sand on the exterior edge of the playground.
To buy more time, the centre’s play area has been moved to the north of the building. The facility is the only child-care centre on the peninsula and caters for 87 children from 75 families.
City of Sydney RSL’s group operations manager Mark Kuczera said the Douglas St Stockton club had surplus land next door and was keen to investigate if it could assist the community.
“We are seriously looking into it to see what’s possible,” he said. “This could be a good thing for the community and a good thing for the club’s members.”
Mission Australia Early Learning Centre’s lease on its Newcastle City Council building, that used to be North Stockton Surf Life Saving Club, expires in July-2020.
Council chief executive officer Jeremy Bath said the building would eventually be demolished because it was in such bad repair.
Mr Kuczera said the investigations were in the “very early stages”, but the club would be exploring several options to see what was possible.
“The plan is to investigate what is allowable and once we know what we can and can’t do with the site, we’ll let the community know,” he said. “There is no doubt the idea has potential, but we need to do a full feasibility study to see if we can get it done.”
Mission Australia Early Learning general manager Ben Williams said a range of leasing options were being investigated.
“We are looking to lease a facility that is either repurposed or possibly developed from scratch,” he said. “What is most important is that we find a purpose-built, quality space for delivering our child care services.”
The community has been campaigning for a long-term solution for the erosion problem for decades.