The John Earnshaw Reserve in Yarrowee Street and the former Windermere Primary School are two of several properties in Ballarat and across the district slated to be sold by the Andrews state government as it searches for cash in the face of declining state incomes.
The Age has reported the government is poised to increase sales of publicly-owned Crown land around Victoria, with more than 2600 hectares of land in total to be sold.
It follows the revelations, first published in The Courier, that the government would also sell its newly developed GovHub sites across the state.
Among the sales are properties in Ballarat: the Earnshaw Reserve; land at Mt Clear once owned by Mt Clear College; the Windermere Primary School; a car park at 10 Anderson Street West, and two former plantations in Napoleons.
Land at 49a Drummond Street Creswick and Coates Road in Snake Valley is also for sale, as is the former Beaufort Primary School on Hill Street and Beaufort DELWP depot on Lawrence Street.
The John Earnshaw reserve is the former sports oval for Sebastopol Primary School, named for teacher and football champion John Earnshaw.
In 2010, the school council passed a motion saying it no longer required the land.
South Ward councillor Des Hudson says he goes past the land regularly, and remembers when it had a cricket pitch in the centre and a shelter shed.
However, he says, the land has been under-utilised for some years and he's not surprised it's up for sale.
"I had a fellow looking at it with the idea of creating a community garden, which seemed like a good outcome for the land," says Cr Hudson.
"But when we looked into the ownership and realised it was likely to be sold off as it was surplus Crown land, we found another site more suitable."
Now retired, John Earnshaw has no problem with the sale of his eponymous oval.
"Somebody stole the sign off it about three years ago," Mr Earnshaw says.
Mr Earnshaw remembers vividly helping create the Sebastopol Primary School oval over 40 years ago.
There was problem however - the block sloped steeply back towards Yarrowee Creek. So Mr Earnshaw convinced the Borough to level it 'about 9-10 feet up' with roadfill, then secured a load of aged nightsoil from the sewerage works to top-dress it.
"It was delivered at Christmas though, and it had quite a smell when it was broken up," Mr Earnshaw recalls.
"I and a number of other staff and council workers spent Christmas Day getting more soil to cover it, because the neighbours were complaining."
The John Earnshaw Reserve was dedicated in December 1985.
The sales have been criticised by Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, who said the government was selling off land to developers when it should be using it to help the poor and the homeless, according to The Age.
A state government spokesperson said in a statement the number of properties being prepared for sale and on the market is consistent with figures over the past 20 years.
"All surplus land is considered for alternative government use - such as public housing - through long-standing landholding policy and guidelines," they said.
The state government's Department of Treasury and Finance website currently lists 152 properties for sale and land that is being prepared for future sale.
These properties total 2,542 hectares of land. The total land area is higher than in previous years due to 16 agricultural properties in Robinvale and a surplus research property in Mildura, which accounts for 2,300 hectares of the total.
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