I write to thank every person who has contacted me in regards to the Berrima Gaol; I appreciate the emails and phone calls I have received and noted each concern raised.
Although, I was disappointed to read Ms Russell's letter to the editor October 26 "Heritage jewel in our historic crown is being 'flogged'", as many of her concerns would have been elevated - and assumptions corrected - had she written to my office directly in the first instance, instead of seeking publicity on these incorrect assumptions.
As per my discussions with both Wingecarribee Shire Council and Berrima District Residents association (prior to the information seeking EOI being distributed); the State Government is calling for expressions of interest in the site.
I doubt I will find a resident who disagrees that Berrima Gaol has great potential to deliver social, economic and environmental outcomes for the community.
Exploring the expressions of interest is the first step in understanding the potential for the site and I certainly look forward to seeing what is received.
The EOI campaign will assess and evaluate what kind of responses are received, and the submissions may then be required to respond to a request for tender.
As Ms Russell speculated, the development of a community vision statement on the future of the site will, in fact, contribute to the assessment of the EOIs.
In addition, Wingecarribee Shire Council will be essential in determining the permitted use through the zoning process, which will be required for a change of use to the site.
Any community organisation, including the Court House Trust or Berrima Residents Association, or perhaps another community group Ms Russell is a part of, is also eligible to submit their own ideas for the Gaol via the EOI process.
I also write to the editor to give confidence to the community that the gaol will remain a historic centrepiece for Berrima - attracting tourism and growth for the whole region.
And that I have the NSW Government's assurance that - if an appropriate expression of interest is received and adequate tender completed - part of the site will be used for public space and the heritage buildings preserved and adaptively reused.
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