Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Michael Parris | Posted: June 27, 2019
New Sports Minister John Sidoti says he would "love to see" the Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre reopen.
The government was in caretaker mode at the time.
Mr Sidoti announced a "frank and fearless" NSW Dams Safety Committee review of the decision last month and said during a visit to Newcastle on Thursday that the committee's report was "imminent".
Asked whether there was a chance the centre would reopen, he said: "Most definitely, but I can't make that decision until I've actually seen the report.
"Ultimately, I'd love to see it reopened because I think, when you start talking about venues like that, they're life-changing.
"It's not just good for the local economy, but they attract children and people from all over the state, and we need that.
"At the same time we want our infrastructure to be safe, we want it to be up-to-date, we want it to be modern.
"This report will basically guide us forward."
The centre's permanent staff have been redeployed but casual staff have been left mostly unemployed.
The Public Service Association slammed the government this month after it engaged contractors to complete maintenance work on the centre.
The Office of Sport, a NSW government agency, told employees that remediation work on the ash dam, or moving the centre to a site nearby, would take at least two years.
Lake Macquarie independent MP Greg Piper has strongly criticised the closure, and his office collected more than 20,000 signatures on a petition which forced a parliamentary debate on the issue three weeks ago.
Mr Sidoti, who was in Newcastle to turn the first sod on the $10 million Newcastle Hockey Centre redevelopment, said he would make a decision "ASAP" after seeing the Dams Safety Committee report.
"Obviously, it's a very galvanising issue. I know the community are very, very interested and disappointed to a degree that it closed.
"I know that there are people waiting. There are people that should be working at the moment, so the quicker we get this advice, the quicker we can move forward.
"You can't speculate until we've actually got the evidence before us."
Meanwhile, the hockey centre upgrade includes spectator areas, grandstand seating, a new amenities building for players and administrators, more parking and security, lighting and watering upgrades.
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