Fenced park next to St Mary's College triggers debate

St Mary's Catholic College principal Graham Meertens in the C.H Adams Memorial Park.
St Mary's Catholic College principal Graham Meertens in the C.H Adams Memorial Park. Valerie Horton

ST MARY'S College is making it look like it owns the C.H Adams Memorial Park, according to Fraser Coast rates campaigner Allan Fuary.

Mr Fuary, president of the Henry George Association of Queensland Incorporated said the Maryborough Catholic secondary school was using the park, beside the school, as its own. 

"It's completely fallacious to say it's open to the public," he said. Mr Fuary said many people assumed the park, at the corner of Lennox and Anne Sts, belonged to the school, as it was fenced and used by the school. 

"I know people who live nearby," he said.  "They assume like every one else it's school property."  Mr Fuary said the school needed to lease the land and not use it for free.

He said the school should not have fenced the property, which is owned by the State Government and leased by the Fraser Coast Council.  

St Mary's College principal Graham Meertens said the school was trying to follow the example of the park's namesake, who donated money for the maintenance of Maryborough parks. 

"We've tried to follow that vein in caring for an outdoor area for people to use," he said.  Mr Meertens said the school erected the fence for safety seasons, to help prevent balls being accidentally kicked on to the road. 

He said St Mary's had spent thousands of dollars on caring for the park, adding new turf and a sprinkling system. 

Mr Meertens said the school always communicated with neighbours about any changes and said the park was well signed with entry ways always open.

"People certainly enjoy the opportunity to kick a footy during the day or the weekends," he said. 

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell, the school's former business manager, said St Mary's College had an agreement with the council about what could be put on it.

"The school does its full time maintenance," he said.  "It's available to the public if they ever want to use it." 

He said the school had spent school money on what was essentially a public place. 

"Certainly they (the school) get a benefit from it," he said.

"I applaud the school for spending money on the public." 

Councillor Rolf Light said he had put a question on notice at the last council meeting, asking for a report to be drawn up on the park. 

"I think a reasonable person would assume it's their (the school's) property," he said.

  "Let's make this official ... that way there is no question marks over what the school has done.

"I want to explore the need for a permit or a lease."   

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