The Berrima community is pleading with the State Government to be consulted before any decisions are made about the future of the old Berrima Gaol.
Berrima Residents Association secretary Eric Savage said there was an opportunity for the community and government to get together to decide the 182-year-old gaol's future, in a way that would benefit the entire Southern Highlands.
"It could be used for the benefit of all the Berrima community and the Southern Highlands, and in fact be an important economic and tourist attraction for the whole of the state," he said.
He said the setting was ideal for a social or cultural institution, or even as a focal point for the region's tourism.
One of the association's members suggested the gaol could be used as an outpost for Carriageworks in Sydney, and Mr Savage said that would be an ideal use for the iconic buildings.
"The attraction of Carriageworks doing it would be that the site could be used for rotating exhibitions, and Carriageworks has a wonderful farmers' market, and we think that with the wonderful food and wine that the Highlands has, it would be a terrific place to showcase what is available," Mr Savage said.
While that was just one of the possible options for the historic site, Mr Savage said the most important thing was the government listen to the community.
"We think it's important that the government seriously engage with, not only us in Berrima, but more widely with the council and the food and wine association and other people to look at all sorts of creative opportunities that the gaol could be used for," he said.
The community push to be consulted on the gaol's future comes after the State Government reportedly engaged real estate agents to deal with the site, and more recently discussed re-using several former gaol sites across NSW, including Berrima.
Mr Savage insisted the gaol's closure presented a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an exciting legacy for the people of NSW that was respectful of its past and of lasting benefit to the community into the future.
"Berrima Gaol is an iconic building that is listed on the NSW Heritage Inventory as an item of state significance," Mr Savage said.
"During its 182-year history it has many stories to tell."