Vote on old Yarragon school site

Yarragon Business Association's Michael Fozard hopes Baw Baw Shire Council will be able to purchase a block of land in Yarragon from the state government for the use of the community. photograph hayley mills
Yarragon Business Association's Michael Fozard hopes Baw Baw Shire Council will be able to purchase a block of land in Yarragon from the state government for the use of the community. photograph hayley mills

The future of a vacant block in Yarragon that community members have long wanted to be put to use as a community space will be decided at a Baw Baw Shire Council meeting this week.

In 2017, the state government announced it intended to sell the land.

Later, in 2018, Baw Baw Council confirmed it was interested in purchasing the former Yarragon school site for a reduced community rate following a passionate plea from the community.

The price of the block, at 3-5 Rollo Street, has been the subject of negotiations between council and the state government for some months.

Council received two independently-certified valuations of the property, however, according to a council report, these valuations were significantly lower than the valuations obtained by the Valuer General's Office for the state government.

Councillors will decide at a meeting on Wednesday evening if they will press ahead with the purchase.

If they choose to do so, council will submit an offer for the Valuer General to evaluate.

According to a council report, there are no allocated funds in the 2019/20 budget for the property acquisition.

The Yarragon Business Association and Yarragon District Community Association worked collaboratively to conduct community consultation on future uses of the site, identifying a stopping point for RVs, a community soundshell, a historical centre and an e-forest of artificial light-up trees as potential uses.

The CFA had also indicated it needed a new site for a fire station and the idea was floated that some of the site could be used by the CFA.

YBA spokesman Michael Fozard said the group was considering establishing a trust to assist in the purchase of the site on behalf of the community.

"There is so much happening here in Yarragon, in regards to the subdivisions that have been put forward and the ones that have already been approved – we've got to make sure that council and the community are planning for the future," Mr Fozard said. "We want to make sure we maintain that village-feel ... and we are really facing an uphill battle with government trying to balance their budgets."

According to Mr Fozard the community had purchased the land for the existing school and later sold it to the education department.

The comments also come off the back of the Yarragon community successfully fundraising to pay for a town planner to represent the community at a Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal hearing, at which a proposal for a service centre on the outskirts of the town was knocked back.

In 2017, the state government announced it intended to sell the land.

Later, in 2018, Baw Baw Council confirmed it was interested in purchasing the former Yarragon school site for a reduced community rate following a passionate plea from the community.

The price of the block, at 3-5 Rollo Street, has been the subject of negotiations between council and the state government for some months.

Council received two independently-certified valuations of the property, however, according to a council report, these valuations were significantly lower than the valuations obtained by the Valuer General's Office for the state government.

Councillors will decide at a meeting on Wednesday evening if they will press ahead with the purchase.

If they choose to do so, council will submit an offer for the Valuer General to evaluate.

According to a council report, there are no allocated funds in the 2019/20 budget for the property acquisition.

The Yarragon Business Association and Yarragon District Community Association worked collaboratively to conduct community consultation on future uses of the site, identifying a stopping point for RVs, a community soundshell, a historical centre and an e-forest of artificial light-up trees as potential uses.

The CFA had also indicated it needed a new site for a fire station and the idea was floated that some of the site could be used by the CFA.

YBA spokesman Michael Fozard said the group was considering establishing a trust to assist in the purchase of the site on behalf of the community.

"There is so much happening here in Yarragon, in regards to the subdivisions that have been put forward and the ones that have already been approved – we've got to make sure that council and the community are planning for the future," Mr Fozard said. "We want to make sure we maintain that village-feel ... and we are really facing an uphill battle with government trying to balance their budgets."

According to Mr Fozard the community had purchased the land for the existing school and later sold it to the education department.

The comments also come off the back of the Yarragon community successfully fundraising to pay for a town planner to represent the community at a Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal hearing, at which a proposal for a service centre on the outskirts of the town was knocked back.

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