Image for And they’re at it again ...

*Pic: The Town Hall in Ross, with the old Ross School in the distance, where in between lies the old School oval ~ see the plan below.

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Ross is frequently referred to by politicians as one of the best heritage places to visit and experience in Tasmania.

Why would politicians set out to destroy the heritage values of Ross?

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

The Northern Midlands Council are seeking to sell the old School Oval next to the Town Hall in Ross.

This information came to light in the minutes of the Ross Local District Committee, a special committee of the Council, where we can read ~

Meeting of the Ross Local District Committee
7 Dec 2016
http://www.northernmidlands.tas.gov.au/files/Minutes_Ross_Local_District_Committee/2016-12-07__RLDC_Minutes_.pdf
8.19 Ross School Oval ~
Council have requested feedback on a proposal to subdivide and sell the Ross Oval now the Ross Town Square has been purchased.
A motion in reply was moved ~
The Ross Local District Committee does not support the development or disposal of the former Ross School oval.
Carried unanimously.

Normally, the minutes of the Ross Local District Committee would be published with the agenda for the next Council meeting, but though the minutes for the special committees of other towns were included with the last agenda, the minutes for the Ross Local District Committee were not included, leading to the assumption that a meeting was not held ~

Northern Midlands Council Minutes
12 Dec 2016
page 1382
http://www.northernmidlands.tas.gov.au/files/2016_Minutes/2016-12-12_Minutes_open_council.pdf

Two weeks after their last meeting, the minutes of the Ross Local District Committee finally appeared on the Council website, unapproved by the Council meeting, and any motions in those minutes not considered by the Councillors.

With Councillors being left in the dark about the motion from the Ross Local District Committee opposing the sale of the old School Oval, we can now but wonder how far the Council has progressed the old School Oval toward being sold.

WHY THE OLD ROSS SCHOOL OVAL MATTERS

Located next to the Ross Town Hall, the Oval is used by many residents of Ross, and visitors to the town, which can include a rally of vintage cars, or a dog event.

Meetings held in the Town Hall, frequently overflow onto the Oval, where children can run around and play.

There are many other activities that could happen on the Old School oval, which will be history, if this public land is sold and developed.

The public loss and private development of the Oval would have a dramatic impact on the heritage values of this historic town.

Though the old sandstone schoolhouse has been sold, it is heritage listed and the oval maintains a heritage environment between the Town Hall and the old school.

BACKGROUND TO THE PROPOSED SALE OF THE OVAL

As described in the Committee minutes, the Northern Midlands Council purchased a large area of land in Ross on Church Street, next to the Man O’Ross Hotel, to develop a new town park.

Consultants were engaged and consultation held with the community, which included the future of the old School Oval and how the area would be planned, but at no point was the prospect of selling the oval raised.

The old Ross School closed in 1999 and was subsequently given to the people of Ross by the Tasmanian government, including the oval, via the Northern Midlands Council.

The old school could have been used for community purposes, such as art classes, and the old tennis court could have seen a tennis club formed, with the surrounding grounds developed into a community park, with activities flowing onto the oval and toward the Town Hall.

None of this happened.

The Tasmanian Wool Centre was granted a lease on the building and held this for many years, but did nothing with the building.

When I inspected the building in 2007, it was neglected and deteriorating, with a wood fire full of dead bees.

The neglect of the old school continued, until the year arrived when the Council could legally sell the gift from the Tasmanian government to the people of Ross.

When I inspected the old school in 2014, the neglect had clearly continued into serious deterioration and the wood fire was still full of dead bees.

No effort had been made to tidy the building up for sale.

At auction the building was handed in, but eventually sold and is now privately owned.

A QUESTIONABLE ACQUISITION

Why would the Northern Midlands Council buy more land in Ross, when they already owned the old School Oval, located next to the Town Hall and the public toilets in Ross?

A KEY PROBLEM FOR ROSS

In 2012 Pitt & Sherry prepared development plans for five towns in the Northern Midlands, but Ross was not included ~
http://www.northernmidlands.tas.gov.au/Page/Page.aspx?Page_Id=351

As a consequence, there has been no clear vision for the development and future of Ross to guide community, development and tourism related decisions.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

On Boxing Day a petition will be launched, to save our old School Oval for community use.

When politicians are back from the festive break, they can be asked to examine this whole sorry affair with a gift to the people of Ross by the Tasmanian Government, which could have become quite a wonderful asset.

Questions will need to be asked, such as why the Tasmanian Wool Centre held a lease on the building and allowed the property of the people to fall into disrepair, until the Council could legally sell the old Ross School?

Why did the Northern Midlands Council buy more land in Ross for a park, when they already owned the old School Oval?

Why are the Northern Midlands Council now seeking to sell the old School Oval?

Why were the minutes of the Ross Local District Committee not included with the last Council agenda, including a critical motion on the old School Oval?

CONCLUSION

It is a well-known developer tactic to float a development proposal right on Christmas.

Why is the Northern Midlands Council secretly floating a development proposal, with the sale of the old School Oval, right on Christmas?

• Kim Peart in Comments: A petition to Save Our Old School Oval was launched on Boxing Day and is available for anyone to sign at ~ 39 Church Street, Ross ~ “We humbly call upon the Mayor and Councillors of the Northern Midlands Council to keep the old School Oval in Ross in public hands, as a recreation ground next to the Town Hall and public toilets in Ross, where members of the Ross community and visitors to Ross can enjoy the public open space, and where events are held from time to time.” We will have the petition on the old School Oval on New Years Day ~ Sunday 1 January 2017 ~ so come join us and bring a picnic lunch. A soap box will be available for anyone wishing to make a speech …