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WITH 84 children, and 350 on its waiting list, uprooting St Thomas's Rozelle Child Care Centre to make way for a metro line that may never be built is not something parents will take lying down.
The community child-care centre is on one of the busiest sections of Victoria Road - at the corner of Darling Street - and is one of the first sites to be resumed for the Sydney metro line planned from Central to Rozelle.
"We're digging in for a fight," said Prue Gillespie, the president of the parents' committee at the centre. "We don't accept that this is going to happen."
Unlike most businesses, shifting a child-care centre, particularly a community centre that offers affordable child care, is not a matter of just finding another location and moving.
There is accreditation with federal, state and local governments which takes a minimum of several months, as well as finding an appropriate site and then raising the money needed to upgrade it.
And like most things in the city's inner suburbs, idle space that can be converted into a child-care centre is not readily available.
"We're taking independent legal advice and are going to mount a campaign to oppose this," Ms Gillespie said. "Our existing location is not a viable option for a terminus for the metro."
Metro officials have "outlined minimum obligations" the State Government has under land resumption legislation, but no final decision will be made until the end of May about whether the child-care centre will be needed.
If it is, the centre will have only months to relocate, which is not feasible, Ms Gillespie says. "It smacks of fly-by-night planning," she said.
A Sydney Metro spokeswoman, Anne Purcell, said: "Work is still under way to finalise the alignment of the route. We're fairly certain we will need that land. If we need to, we will relocate and re-establish them."
For parents with children at the centre, closure is not an option because alternative community-based centres, which charge much lower fees than privately run centres, are scarce. There is only one in Balmain and another in Lilyfield, which has limited hours.
"It's a mystery to us how this site was chosen: there are a host of empty spaces along this part of Victoria Road," Ms Gillespie said.
"Our corner has been earmarked, but of the four corners, this is the one with the most community impact. The opportunity is there of moving the metro access across the road, where there are three shops and a public toilet.
"But for whatever reason, we have been chosen."
Sydney Morning Herald
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