TWO-and-a-half years after the Myuna Bay sport and recreation centre was closed, a planned replacement facility appears no closer despite the NSW government promising to "fast-track" its construction.
The government announced a new facility would be built in south-west Lake Macquarie in late 2019 when it confirmed Myuna Bay could not be reopened.
Myuna Bay hosted school sports camps for more than 50 years until it was abruptly shut in March, 2019 due to risks associated with the stability of the nearby Eraring Power Station ash dam.
Eraring's owner Origin Energy has committed to funding a replacement facility, which Acting Sports Minister Geoff Lee said in late 2019 would take at least two years to plan and construct but would be "fast-tracked".
Mr Lee unveiled a parcel of Origin-owned land in Eraring as the government's preferred site for a new centre in mid-2020, but it attracted opposition from nearby residents who said the rural area was ill-suited for such a facility, citing noise, traffic and environmental impacts.
The government ran consultation late last year for the project to be assessed as State Significant Development, a process that would negate the need to rezone the land and allow the centre to be delivered sooner.
But the outcome of that action is yet to be revealed and there has been no public update about the project since the Eraring site was unveiled more than a year ago.
Residents opposed to a centre being built in Eraring had called for the government to abandon its plans in favour of a site elsewhere, which the Newcastle Herald understands is an option that has been considered.
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper admitted on Monday the Eraring site was "certainly not" his preferred option and he shared residents' views that Lake Eraring was not as ideal for watersports as Whiteheads Lagoon, which the Myuna Bay centre was situated next to.
"The Eraring site was selected because of the size and ownership," he said.
"There are aspects of it that are certainly not ideal, one of which is the nature of the interface with the lake.
"Splashing around in the water in kayaks or canoes or other watercraft has been an integral part of people's experience at the Myuna Bay sport and recreation centre.
"The other aspect of it too, of course, was the usage by the [Myuna Bay] waterski club. That won't be able to be done at Eraring. Until the first sod is turned, I think that we should be flexible looking for the absolute best site."
Sports Minister Natalie Ward would not comment on a potential change of sites when contacted on Monday with a spokesperson for the Office of Sport, the agency tasked with planning the centre, only saying "further updates will be provided as they become available".
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said council was keen to see the project advance as it offered "another opportunity" to create "jobs, tourism and recreation experiences" in the city's west.
"The relocation of the Myuna Bay sport and recreation facility provides the opportunity to incorporate additional facilities that cater for sports tourism and complementary community uses," she said.
"I also look forward to learning about how public ownership, access and reuse of the existing Myuna Bay sport and recreation facility will be achieved.
"Council remains willing and able to assist the Office of Sport in its work on both the existing and the new facility."