Meeting fuels angst

On Sunday, July 8.

On Sunday, July 8.

In an attempt to be transparent and quell dissent from ratepayers at Werri Beach Caravan Park, Kiama Council held a meeting last weekend.

However, instead of clearing the air, the meeting left 300 people in attendance perplexed at best and infuriated at worst.

Van owner Kerry Osborne said the tight-knit community see the park as their home away from home.

There was a clear disconnect between van owners and council representatives.

“I was astonished by the mayor’s behaviour, smirking and laughing while distressed van owners asked earnest questions, whereas the general manager answered in an abrasive and abrupt manner, seemingly immune to the emotive nature of the dispute and the heavy loss faced by the families affected,” Mrs Osborne said.

There have been conflicting reports about what triggered the mayor – a council spokesman said personal insults were hurled at him, Mrs Osborne maintains van owners remained composed.

What can be agreed on is the immense sense of loss ratepayers are feeling, faced with the prospect of having to leave Werri Beach against their will.

Van owners do not believe they are the only ones set to lose out.

Council is yet to consult the Kiama Chamber of Commerce about the development, and van owners fear this could be the nail in the coffin for some Gerringong businesses.

“Most of us are members of the bowlo, you walk in there of a night, and it’s full of people from the caravan park,” van owner Graeme Smith said.

“All our kids are in surf club here, we shop local, tourists won’t be feeding back into Gerringong the way we do. 

“They’re not thinking of the wider community.”

Council insists that without making drastic changes to the park, it will not be financially viable for the years to come.