When Woy Woy controlled its own destiny
In 1977, Keith Whitfield, Dennis Swadling and Geoff Breene were elected to Gosford Shire Council on an ALP ticket.
As Keith Whitfield had a special interest in Australian History and Heritage, in the early 80s Dennis Swadling nominated Keith to be the first chairman of the Gosford Australia Day Committee.
The Blue Mountains Council had nominated buildings of local and national significance in a register, so Keith thought an investigation into heritage buildings on the Woy Woy Peninsula was warranted.
Members of the Brisbane Water Historical Research Association accompanied him to point out some still existing guest houses and buildings like the Old Woy Woy Hotel.
A registrar of interest was later developed.
In 1979, Gosford Council received a proposal from AV Jennings to purchase the Public Library and Office buildings at Woy Woy to construct a two storey building and lease space back to council for the Library and office.
The alternative plan suggested retaining the Library building and developing the rest of the site.
This library building was originally the Woy Woy Shire Council Chambers.
Woy Woy was formally constituted as a separate shire on August 1, 1928, and existed for its own local government administration until the Woy Woy Shire was dissolved on December 31, 1946.
The Council building was constructed in 1931 in the manner of the architecture of the period.
The shopping centre development next door had much support, for the population growth had demanded such a centre.
The Peninsula Chamber of Commerce supported it as did the majority of aldermen.
Public meetings were held by both sides and they were stormy and virulent.
The progress associations, heritage associations and some ALP branches supported retention of the Council Chambers, as a vital part of Woy Woy's history.
Eventually, the State Local Member, Keith O'Connell, and the Minister Paul Landa, gave support to saving the chambers.
Then an interim heritage order was given on the building.
Meanwhile, business interests were planning and properties were bought.
In the finale, Woy Woy got two shopping centres, and saved a building that signified that, once upon a time, Woy Woy controlled its own destiny.
Letter, 6 Jun 2017
Keith Whitfield, Woy Woy