ON Tuesday the Minister for Lands received the following deputation in support of the Shire Council’s proposal that the old cricket reserve, consisting of about 10 acres, be transferred to the Education Department for High School purposes:
Crs Mason, Wells, May and Messrs Gamble, Ward, Crawford Young, Lind, Cunningham, McMurtrie, Bailey, Bartlett, Mesdames Rogerson and Lewis.
Hon. A Downward, M.L.A., introduced the deputation.
Cr. Mason said the Minister already had in hand a petition signed by 314 residents in favor of the proposal is now handed in an additional 562, making a total of 876 names in favor.
He further handed to the Minister signed withdrawals from Mr. McComb’s petition in opposition totalling 57.
Other residents had also written the Minister direct, asking that their names be withdrawn from Mr. McComb’s petition.
Cr. Mason said that the residents of Frankston jealously guarded their reserves, and it was only under extraordinary conditions that they would consent to reserves being used for others purposes.
The present was one of those extraordinary conditions, viz., the establishment of a High School.
The residents of Frankston were willing that the old cricket reserve should be used for High School purposes, because there was no other suitable site available.
The Minister of Education had definitely stated that he would not erect the school on less than 10 acres, as experience had proved the mistake of using pocket handkerchief block in localities capable of rapid development.
In large High Schools in London children were sent out to play in relays, and in some cases the roofs of the houses had to be utilised for that purpose.
Mr. McComb’s supporters said that other sites were available.
Minister: Do they name them?
Cr. Mason: I have failed to find them. The reserve on Hastings Road has been turned down by the Department as being too small, and otherwise unsuitable.
On the other hand, many of the reserves in Frankston could be utilised as recreation reserves.
The present park of 18 acres had only 6 acres cleared and the remaining 12 acres could be utilised for public purposes.
As showing that there was ample room in Frankston, Cr. Mason referred to Dr. Mannix’s picnic, when 20,000 people were accommodated on the park, and on the foreshore reserves, without any trouble.
The cricket reserve now in dispute was not even seen by the visitors.
Frankston also had 40 acres of foreshore reserve between Oliver’s Hill and the town.
He attributed the opposition not to but rather to the fear on the part of a few that they would be asked to pay a small rate to make up the £1500 required by the Education Department.
Mr. Gamble said he had heard the promoter of the petition (Mr McComb) state publicly that the cricket reserves might be wanted in future years as a show ground or municipal market.
The opponents were afraid of the rate.
Mr. McMurtrie said he would be the first to oppose if Frankston was going to suffer from lack of reserves.
He had 29 years experience in the building up of land for sport and recreation.
He inspected the unused 12 acres of the park referred to by Cr. Mason, and was satisfied that it could be made into an ideal reserve.
It was right in the heart of the town, and was at present simply lying useless.
Let the Frankston people have all their sport on the park reserve, and the High School on the cricket reserve.
Cr. May said that country ratepayers were keen on the proposal and they had influenced their council representatives, who had voted unanimously for the land going to the High School.
Out of 15 councillors there was only one dissenting.
The Minister: Is he going up for election next August? (Laughter)
If he is opposed we should get an indication of the feeling of the people.
Cr. May said Frankston was surrounded with reserves with 1000 acres within two and a half miles of Frankston, besides miles of foreshore, not to mention 10,000 acres of water space.
Mr L. J. Ward (secretary of the Peninsula Schools Association) referred to the importance of securing a High School at Frankston, as serving the interests of the whole Peninsula.
Cr Wells said be had lived within five minutes walk of the reserve for the last 40 years and could say that it was only used for cricket. Not 1 percent of the people used the ground for picnics.
Mr W. Crawford Young said if the Minister had it in mind that a vote of the people was necessary, a referendum would be welcomed.
The Minister said his remark about the retiring councillor was not intended to indicate that he favoured a referendum. Perhaps the councillor was present to, speak for himself.
Mr Young – He is not here.
The Minister – He will probably be with the other delegation?
Cr Wells – No, he did not come down today.
Mrs Rogerson spoke very effectively. She pointed out that the cricket club that used the reserve in question and consequently was vitally interested, had almost unanimously agreed to allow the ground to be transferred.
She had three children who were ready to go to the High School.
The Minister said he was very much in sympathy with the deputation.
If he found there was no injury inflicted, or no restriction of public rights, he would be disposed to look favourably on the proposal.
He asked the members of the delegation to wait in the corridors until he had heard the other side.
The opposing deputation was then introduced.
It consisted of Messrs. Milvain, Joseph McComb, John McComb, Master McComb, W. Croskell, Cyril Croskell (Cranbourne), Kelly, Petrie, R Wells, Burton sen., Mrs. Burton, Mrs. Howie, and Miss Croskell.
After a long wait, the Minister again interviewed the first deputation in a separate room.
He said the “other side” had put up a very strong case.
One old gentleman had informed him that the ground had been, used as a reserve for 50 years.
Cr Wells said the old gentleman in question had neither “chick nor child”.
The Minister – He has rights and I am out to protect him. He said it had also been urged that other sites were available.
Cr Mason challenged the opposition to specify them.
The Minister after argument said he might consent to the land being used conjointly by the Education Department and the public.
Cr Mason said if the Education Department could be moved to alter its decision the arrangement would suit the people. It was the original proposal.
Cr Wells urged the Minister to visit Frankston and he consented to do so.
He also promised to chat the matter over with the Minister of Education.
From the pages of the Frankston and Somerville Standard, 28 July 1922