A DECADES-long dream is being realised at Raleigh.
Earthworks have begun on the site of what will one day soon become Les Christian Lodge - a $6 million, 60-bed aged care facility.
Former Cowper MP and now board member of the Royal Freemasons Benevolent Institution, Garry Nehl, was there to watch the bulldozers roar into action.
"There has been agitation in the Urunga area for decades for an aged care facility," Mr Nehl said.
"It's been a frustrating journey to get to this point."
Those frustrations include finding the original site purchased for the facility was unsuitable, then a long battle to gain approval for the development on the current site.
It's that history that has Mr Nehl keen to see the aged care centre up and running as soon as possible.
"I'd like to see it finished before Christmas," he said.
The earthworks are expected to take three months to complete and Mr Nehl is hoping to have the tender process done by then so construction can begin straight away.
The completed facility will fill a dire need in the local area for aged care beds and will also include a 20-bed dementia wing.
"We have Bellorana and Oakman Gardens Village in Bellingen, and there have been some new aged care facilities built along the Mid North Coast in recent years, but overall there is still a very big demand for aged care beds," Mr Nehl said.
Apart from helping the elderly, the facility will provide the equivalent of 12-15 full-time jobs.
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