A NEW era for the former Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre site has begun with the appointment of a trust to manage what will be known as Hungry Point Reserve.
Three community representatives are among 11 members of the trust, which will shape the future of the Crown reserve land, named after its location on the eastern headland of Gunnamatta Bay.
Sutherland Shire deputy mayor Kevin Schreiber will be the chairman.
The other community representatives are Cronulla Chamber of Commerce president Mark Aprilovic and shire educator and Aboriginal culture expert Mary Jacobs.
Eight ex officio members will represent Sutherland Shire Council, Crown Lands, Roads and Maritime Services, La Perouse Aboriginal Lands Council, NSW Police, Marine Rescue NSW, Government Property NSW and Sutherland Shire Historical Society.
They will determine future uses for the site where NSW Fisheries research was undertaken for more than 100 years before the state government's shock decision to close the centre and relocate its operations was sealed last December.
Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the appointment of the trust fulfilled the government's commitment to keep the site in public hands.
Mr Stoner said it was a major recommendation of an independent review of the site's future and would "ensure increased public access to this fantastic part of Cronulla".
Cronulla MP Mark Speakman said the community representatives would "bring a wealth of local knowledge to the board and a commitment to securing strong results for the shire".
"While the new trust will manage the Crown Reserve land, the existing facilities on this site will be used by Marine Rescue NSW, water police and Roads and Maritime Services."
Consultant David Harley, who recommended the management trust, also proposed a marine rescue base, with educational centres and a walking path linking Bass and Flinders Point and Darook Park. He said there should be no large-scale commercial or hotel development but a kiosk could provide a revenue stream.
RESIDENTS WILL GET CHANCE TO HAVE A SAY
The three community representatives on the trust want to hear the thoughts of shire residents regarding how the site should be used.
Councilllor Kevin Schreiber, Mary Jacobs and Mark Aprilovic agreed the community had largely been alienated by the decision to close the research centre and needed to be re-engaged.
They favoured retaining the aquarium for educational and possible further research purposes; contrary to consultant David Harley’s recommendation that it be removed.
Cr Schreiber, who has served on the council since 1995 and has been mayor five times, said he was delighted the site was ‘‘coming back to the community’’.
‘‘We were concerned the government would turn it into a commercial site, which would have been sacrilegious use of the land,’’ he said. ‘‘Hopefully, the government will give us some seed funding and we can seek more assistance once a business plan is in place.
Ms Jacobs, a Loftus TAFE lecturer and author with ‘‘a passion’’ for Aboriginal culture in the shire, said there was huge scope to showcase photos and details of rock artwork, which abounded in the nearby national parks.
Mr Aprilovic, a former professional surfer, retailer and founder of Cronulla Surf School, said he believed the site had great tourism potential.
‘‘I think we have to come in with an open mind, see what’s on the table and come up with a plan that benefits the community,’’ he said.
What do you think should happen with the Fisheries site?