Still op­ti­mistic af­ter all this time

Ef­forts for new com­mu­nity cen­tre, fire hall in Mid­dle­ton alive and well

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR

Mid­dle­ton’s new com­mu­nity cen­tre/fire hall plans are still alive and hopes are high that fund­ing from pro­vin­cial and fed­eral sources will come through, said Mayor Sylvester Atkin­son.

The pro­posed struc­ture would cre­ate a $3.4- to $3.9-mil­lion com­mu­nity cen­tre for Mid­dle­ton and in­clude space for the Mid­dle­ton Fire Depart­ment whose mem­bers, trucks, and gear are cur­rently in cramped quar­ters in their ag­ing head­quar­ters be­hind town hall.

Plans hit a snag re­cently when it was dis­cov­ered the par­cel of land planned for the de­vel­op­ment wasn’t suit­able. But the town says ne­go­ti­a­tions are in the works for an­other piece of land still within town lim­its.

“The up­date on that is that we are still in talks with the owner, so the ac­tual site isn’t pub­lic at this time,” said Mid­dle­ton CAO Jen­nifer Boyd af­ter a re­cent meet­ing of the Com­mu­nity Cen­tre & Fire Hall Com­mit­tee.

“The de­sign dis­cus­sion that we had was around whether or not the foot­print of both the fire hall side and the com­mu­nity cen­tre side needed to be re­duced to ac­com­mo­date fund­ing,” she said. “Noth­ing was de­cided. There was just a dis­cus­sion and the ac­tion from the meet­ing was for the fire chief and the deputy chief to meet with our con­sul­tant to look at whether prac­ti­cally re­duc­ing the size would work and what that would look like, and then to bring it back with cost­ing on it as a fall back.”

Atkin­son said he’s afraid that if they went too much smaller they wouldn’t be build­ing much more than what they al­ready have.

“And we want to get rid of what we have for two rea­sons: one, be­cause of its con­di­tion but also be­cause of size,” Atkin­son said, adding that’s why he wants to meet with West Nova MP Colin Fraser and An­napo­lis MLA Stephen McNeil to see what money is avail­able fed­er­ally and provin­cially.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers are hop­ing that meet­ing can be set up within the next few weeks.

Cap­i­tal Cam­paign

There has also been talk of a cap­i­tal cam­paign to raise funds, de­pend­ing on the suc­cess of talks with the prov­ince and Ot­tawa.

“There was some dis­cus­sion about who will lead that but that hasn’t been fi­nal­ized yet,” Boyd said.”

“We’re go­ing to strike a com­mit­tee of com­mu­nity peo­ple as well as fire­men and coun­cil to look at fundrais­ing through var­i­ous sources – com­mu­nity and oth­er­wise,” Atkin­son said.

Mid­dle­ton Fire Chief Mike Toole hopes the meet­ing with Fraser and McNeil will be within the next week or so, he said Oct. 31. He said there is a fairly sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing short­fall and it’s pos­si­ble an out­side source of fund­ing will have to be pro­vided.

He said a cap­i­tal cam­paign is some­thing to look at.

“There was steam­rolling on that back in 2009, 2010 when we were get­ting things started,” he said, “but it’s kind of laid low since.”

Toole also said the pro­posed prop­erty suits fire­fight­ers.

“Based on what we would be con­struct­ing, no it’s not 100 per cent per­fect, but it will suf­fice for the res­i­dents of the town and An­napo­lis County for sure,” he said of the land un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion.

Long Time

Toole said a new fire hall for Mid­dle­ton has been a long time in the mak­ing.

“I think my first min­utes were 2008, ’09,” he said in ref­er­ence to ini­tial dis­cus­sions within the depart­ment. “It’s been a long, old bat­tle.”

Toole said go­ing for­ward de­pends on fund­ing.

“I feel pos­i­tive but if un­for­tu­nately if there is no govern­ment level par­tic­i­pa­tion, for the town fi­nan­cially it wouldn’t be a good move to do it on their own.”

But Atkin­son said he’s still op­ti­mistic, adding land ne­go­ti­a­tions might be re­solved as of an in-cam­era meet­ing that was slated for Nov. 5.

Ear­lier this year the town had put the cost of a new hall some­where be­tween $3.4 and $3.9 mil­lion. The fire depart­ment has put about $100,000 in the pot and the town has pledged $900,000. Other do­na­tions equal about $58,000.

Meet­ings

The Oct. 25 meet­ing was the com­mit­tee’s first pub­lic meet­ing.

“All meet­ings now will be pub­lic,” said Boyd. “We did have an in-cam­era meet­ing at the be­gin­ning just to up­date the com­mit­tee on the land pur­chase but the rest of the meet­ing was a pub­lic meet­ing. Right now we don’t have set dates for it but when we do have a date it gets pub­lished to our web­site along with the agenda.”

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

The old fire hall be­hind town hall in Mid­dle­ton is not in great shape and is ex­tremely cramped for all of the Mid­dle­ton Fire Depart­ment’s modern equip­ment. Plans to build a new com­mu­nity cen­tre and fire hall hinge on pro­vin­cial and fed­eral fund­ing that has not yet been se­cured.

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