School wants to stay
PLANS to turn a Hillsborough school into an art gallery carpark have parents up in arms.
At least 50 Monte Cecilia School supporters turned up to the Auckland City Council’s arts, culture and recreation meeting last week to convince councillors to reposition the school rather than move it a kilometre.
“We wouldn’t want to consider relocation until we have exhausted all other options,” trustees chairman Duncan McGill says.
But a memorandum of understanding signed between the Catholic Diocese landowners leaves the school out of the negotiation picture.
“Under the Public Works Act, the council can acquire the land for a park so the diocese has no choice,” Mr McGill says.
He says a resolution was passed to get officers to investigate options other than relocating the school to the St John Vianney parish a kilometre away.
A survey returned by two- thirds of the school’s 218 families showed that 92.5 percent opposed the move.
“It’s a beautiful school among rolling hills. This land was gifted to Auckland to help children, and the council wants to put a carpark there,” says one parent.
“Millions will be spent to relocate so James Wallace can house his art collection. I’m sure plenty of ratepayers will have something to say about that.”
Another parent was concerned about the boggy grounds at St John Vianney, which would be expensive to drain, as well as the lack of transparency.
“It’s like the church has gone behind the school’s back. It’s obvious children are not a priority, but the council is happy to name the park after the school.”
Monte Cecilia School, located on the grounds of Monte Cecilia Park, which is also home to the Pah Homestead, was opened in 1952.
The site has been used for educational purposes for 108 years. In 2002, the homestead and surrounding land was purchased by the council and earmarked as Auckland’s next premier park.
Refurbishment of the homestead is under way. It will house the $50 million James Wallace Arts collection.
It will also be a conference and wedding venue that can host artists and writers.
Councillor Greg Moyle says the problem with Monte Cecilia School’s concerns is that the land it sits on is owned by the diocese and not the school board.
“We all see the value of retaining the school, whether it’s on that site or another site,” he says.
“I think it was a mistake 50 years ago to build the school on that site. Someone had no vision.”
Deputy mayor David Hay says it is to everyone’s advantage to get some finality.
Diocese spokeswoman Lindsay Freer says while negotiations are proceeding, it would be inadvisable for the diocese to comment.
Council officers will report back to the committee about alternative options by March.