COUNCILLORS will try to stonewall what one called a "bloody-minded pursuit" to demolish Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre, asking NSW Lands and Property Minister Steve Kamper to refuse a DA to flatten the site.
At Monday night's meeting, all but Labor Cr Keara Conroy supported a motion to try to save the centre and demand the deed of agreement between Origin Energy and the NSW Office of Sport be released, after mayor Kay Fraser revealed she was told a replacement wouldn't be "like-for-like".
The council will also ask ministers from both the Office of Sport and Lands and Property departments to inspect the site as a matter of urgency to see firsthand its "condition, attributes and potential".
Labor Cr David Belcher said he was incredibly disappointed in how the entire scenario has gone down.
"I was here, like many other councillors, when we were notified essentially at the eleventh hour that the sky was falling and this facility had to close tomorrow," he said.
"Yet, we were promised, 'don't worry, we'll do this deal with Origin, you'll get this brand new facility and everything will be great'.
"Well they've closed the facility and in that entire period of time, nothing has been done, absolutely nothing has been done - the western side of Lake Macquarie continues to grow, the population is there, yet not only are we not getting more facilities, we're getting stripped of the facilities we did have."
Cr Belcher said the community is "rightfully outraged" and urged the minister to revisit the decision made by the previous government.
"I do hope that course is changed, the facility is revitalised and given back into the hands of the community and if that isn't the case - then an iron-clad guarantee that a new facility is built," he said.
The motion argued the DA isn't in the public interest due to the loss of value of existing infrastructure to the community in the absence of a proposed replacement, the need for accessible and publicly operated recreation facilities, loss of social capital and the absence of detail for the future use of the site.
The site was shuttered almost overnight in 2019 due to concerns about the risks the nearby Eraring Power Station's coal ash dam posed in the event of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake - deemed a once-in-a-5000-year event.
Work on Eraring's Embankment Stabilitation Project started in 2022 and was expected to be completed in late 2024.
At the meeting, Independent Cr Colin Grigg said he was disappointed the state government had sought to "deceive" the council about the ash dam.
"I was the chair of the Lake Coastal Committee back in last term and the representative from Origin Energy at that time reported to us late in that term that the dam was made safe," he said.
"So I don't know who to believe here."
A council staff member also confirmed they had been informed directly by Origin that works to buttress the dam wall had been successfully completed, and that the company had satisfied its obligations to the NSW Dams Safety Committee.
Councillors also questioned the validity of the concerns that forced Myuna's closure, pointing out a nearby rest area and playground, along with Wangi Road, were still accessible to the public despite the threat the ash dam wall posed to the camp.
Nearly all of them felt they needed more information to make an informed decision about its possible demolition.
A new facility on land previously part of Morisset Hospital was announced in January, last year, with a statement on Origin Energy's website claiming the new centre's design concept would be made available to the community, with construction of the new centre "planned for completion by mid-2023".
A statement from the Minister for Sport's Office about the new facility on Sunday said it was still undertaking planning work and consultation to determine the scope and design of a "fit for purpose" facility, with a construction timeline to be developed once planning, land acquisition and consultation were complete.
Cr Conroy stood against the motion, saying she was disappointed in how the closure had been 'ridiculed in the media and community' considering the safety concerns.
She did however support the request to release the deed of agreement and ask the minister to visit Myuna Bay but argued it was a "very tardy request" from the council.
"One of my core frustrations has been the perception, trying to pitch the Myuna Bay recreation facility not as an Office of Sport facility but as a community facility," she said.
"The argument that the general community can pop in to use these facilities, which I'm very glad to have not heard tonight but I have heard in the media previously, is misleading.
"The absence of detail for the future use of the site is not a relevant factor in determining the development application for demolition, the owner, a state government agency, should be treated like any other property owner and have the right to demolish their property."
She also questioned how Myuna Bay could even be considered a suitable site for a recreational facility today given the health risks air pollution from burning fossil fuels pose - arguing a new centre at Morisset, away from Eraring, would deliver better outcomes.
The DA proposes to demolish all buildings and structures belonging to the former Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre, including car parks, accommodation lodges and outdoor activity spaces, and councillors don't have the power to knock it back without ministerial approval.