24 March 2024

Kiama Council shoulders cost after asbestos found on Gerringong SLSC construction site

| Zoe Cartwright
Start the conversation
A render of the northeast aspect of the new Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club.

A render of the northeast aspect of the new Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club. Photo: Bluestone.

The cost of construction of the new Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club has blown out by hundreds of thousands of dollars just months after work began, due to asbestos being found on the building site.

Kiama Council will invest $370,000 to support the project, with further funds requested by Gerringong SLSC to be referred to council’s 2024-25 budget process for consideration if no other funding alternatives can be found.

The development, costed at just under $6m in the development application submitted to the council, was initially fully funded by State and Federal Government grants – before the discovery of asbestos containing materials on the building site.

Gerringong SLSC President Gary George said the club appreciated the council’s financial support.

READ ALSO Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club says farewell to its 50-year-old clubhouse

“Gerringong SLSC has overseen the design, development and approval process for this project over the past two years and were successful in securing $5.9 million in federal and state grant funds to ensure its successful implementation,” he said.

“The discovery of contaminated materials on-site has created a challenge; however, the site is now fully remediated.

“The club looks forward to delivering a new state-of-the-art facility for the benefit of the local community.”

Kiama Council director of infrastructure and liveability Michael Malone said the council’s contribution recognised the important role volunteer Surf Life Saving Clubs played in the community.

“Surf clubs play an important part in Australian coastal communities, providing beach patrols, water safety training through Nippers programs, sporting and recreation activities and are a social focal point for many,” Mr Malone said.

“Providing this funding, while a significant cost to the council, ensures our local network of surf clubs remains intact, without impacting on our ability to meet our existing capital program commitments.”

Kiama Council papers say the cost is a significant impost and challenging to meet given its current budgetary challenges; however, it recognised the importance of the infrastructure to the community.

Kiama Council CEO Jane Stroud said the blowout was an important lesson to the club, and the council would seek greater control over the project in future.

“There are several important lessons to be learnt in this project in terms of community driven replacement of council-owned facilities versus planned strategic replacement and renewal of council assets,” she said.

“Council has requested direct involvement in the project control group (PCG), to partner with Gerringong SLSC and support their investment in the project.

“We are looking forward to seeing a more robust partnership with Gerringong SLSC going forward in the development of this important community asset that will ultimately sit on the council’s balance sheet and become a council asset.”

READ ALSO Kiama CEO steers council through troubled times towards a ‘huge transformation’

Ms Stroud said the case would also be instructive for other sports clubs in the area who were looking to undertake similar work.

“We hope this half-million-dollar shortfall serves as an important lesson and a model for better collaboration in future community projects,” she said.

Mr Malone said there was also an estimated $180,000 worth of public facilities included in the new Gerringong SLSC, including accessible public toilets, upgraded public parking, outdoor showers and a bike rack.

The $370,000 will be introduced to the Capital Budget – Building & Facilities from the Development Contributions Reserve and Unexpended Grants Reserve.

Mr Malone said the Gerringong SLSC site had not previously been listed as “contaminated lands” nor “possible contaminated lands” on the council’s contaminated lands register or GIS system.

Further, it had not appeared on the planning certificate for the property and if the council had any record of contamination on the site it would have been listed as a notation on this certificate.

Kiama Council and Gerringong SLSC said the site was currently safe and the affected area had been sealed with a capping layer.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.