Reserve sale gets go ahead

The reserve backing onto St Gabriels Primary School oval. photograph michelle slater
The reserve backing onto St Gabriels Primary School oval. photograph michelle slater

Residents in the vicinity of St Gabriel's Primary School in Traralgon are disappointed Latrobe City Council has paved the way to sell-off a section of public land to the Catholic Church.

Council voted to remove reserve status of a block of land abutting the school oval to allow the school to buy it and then fence it off to stop strangers walking through school property.

A Latrobe spokeswoman said council was unable to provide the sale figure until contracts were signed.

Upset locals fronted Latrobe City''s ordinary council meeting last week saying they did not want to lose access to the reserve or oval.

Resident Julie Timbs has lived in the area for 22 years, and said selling and fencing the land would create a big change in the area.

"One of the things we liked about the area was having an open space for our kids to play in. It's sad to see this lost," she said.

The 3000 metre square strip runs along the eastern side of Stirling Avenue and adjoins the school oval. Council agreed last year to let St Gabriel's purchase the land to allow the school to grow and remove the need for council to maintain the small strip of reserve.

Catholic Education Office spokesman Mick Maye told council the school was obliged to erect a fence up state government child safety rules to stop strangers walking through.

He said even if council refused the land sale, they would still have to fence the school oval.

"As it is, anyone can walk through at any point in time. Child safety must be our first priority, we will be putting up a non-scalable fence anyway," Mr Maye said.

Resident Al Wilburn said fencing-off the rear of the school would not stop trespassers, as there was a one-metre high fence around the corner that people could easily jump over.

"A fence will only stop honest people trespassing, but someone with ill-intent will still find a way in," Mr Wilburn said.

Cr Brad Law said rezoning the land was the best option.

"The small proportion that was going to be left to Latrobe City was of very little value, realistically," Cr Law said.