Group against sale of Fairfield surplus land

Last updated 14:58 17/04/2014

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A newly formed group is desperate for the community to support a proposal that could stop the sale of $2 million in surplus land at Hamilton's Fairfield College.

A public meeting was held at the college on Wednesday night and all who spoke out were in support of The Fairfield Project, which formed in November. They are proposing that the surplus land be used for a sustainable education centre.

Former Fairfield College principal Brian Prestige praised the project as did the Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust, who sent a letter of support.

Committee chairman Vic Arcus said the proposed facility would be "a point of difference, an opportunity for the school to make revenue and potentially attract more students".

The land was recently valued at $2 million and it was understood that, if sold, 50 per cent would go to the Ministry of Education.

The remaining funds would be put back into the "central hub" with no guarantee that the school would get any of that.

"The situation is that we [Fairfield College] need the money. That's computers in every classroom,"

Fairfield College principal Richard Crawford said.

"There's a tough decision to be made."

Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure, Jerome Sheppard, said the land was surplus when it was no longer needed for educational purposes.

"Once declared surplus to education requirements, it must go into the Public Works Act disposal process," Sheppard said.

Arcus stressed the importance of the community getting behind the proposal. He set up The Fairfield Project Facebook page which has detailed information of what the project is about, including restoration of Kukutaruhe Gully.

"We need the community to get behind this. We need your support."

If the school board were to accept the proposal, the next step would be a proper consultation including a feasibility study. Although costly, Arcus said they would commit to getting the funds, which he expected would be $50,000.

The school board will consider the proposal on May 1 and Arcus hoped support from the wider community would be enough.

"There are merits over and above the sale of the land. This is only the first step but it's been the best thing I've been involved with for a long time."

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- Waikato


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