Dis­cus­sion needed

Stanstead Journal - - FO­RUM -

build­ing is more ap­pro­pri­ate and should be up­graded. Coun­cil­lor Wayne Strat­ton added that orig­i­nal ar­chi­tec­tural quotes in­di­cate that up­grad­ing the cur­rent Town Hall build­ing will be more costly than ren­o­vat­ing the Rock Is­land lo­ca­tion. It is note­wor­thy to men­tion that no­body present voiced agree­ment to the pro­posed move to Rock Is­land.

As things on this is­sue now stand, the Town has sought quotes on up­grad­ing the present build­ing and the Phelps Street build­ing. Ac­cord­ing to coun­cil, the move would be more fi­nan­cially fea­si­ble. That be­ing said, a few ques­tions beg to be asked. Pri­mar­ily, what are the press­ing al­ter­ations re­quired to meet the needs of Town Coun­cil in the cur­rent build­ing? Of the pro­posed changes, which are ne­ces­si­ties and which are not? And fi­nally, of the $200,000 ar­chi­tec­tural quote re­ceived, what por­tion of that quote is at­trib­ut­able to ad­dress­ing manda­tory changes ver­sus non-manda­tory?

The town sought a quote that in­cluded re-fac­ing their present build­ing. The build­ing front is not modern, but is re-fac­ing nec­es­sary? And if it is, by whose stan­dards has it been deemed so? As stated by at­ten­dees at last night’s meet­ing, there should be trans­par­ent dis­cus­sion on the de­tails of this project. And given the price tags for ren­o­vat­ing the two build­ings, and the fact tax pay­ers are foot­ing the bill, there should be pub­lic dis­cus­sion.

An­other ob­vi­ous ques­tion that begs to be asked is what coun­cil will pro­pose as park­ing so­lu­tions at the Phelps Street lo­ca­tion. It is no se­cret that the park­ing is al­ready too scarce for the Post Of­fice that oc­cu­pies this build­ing. The three park­ing spots are used as a snow de­pos­i­tory in win­ter, which leaves only one-sided street park­ing in win­ter months. Many of the neigh­bor­ing homes lack drive­ways or garages, so home­own­ers’ cars are parked on the ad­ja­cent streets and in the mu­nic­i­pal park­ing lot at night. These streets do not al­low park­ing on both sides, nor park­ing in win­ter. Adding to the short­age of park­ing is the fact Church Street has two busi­nesses within feet of the Phelps build- ing, and their clien­tele park along the one avail­able side of Church Street through­out the busi­ness day, as do home own­ers, their visi­tors, and the Post of­fice clien­tele. Fi­nally, the Sureté du Que­bec also oc­cu­pies of­fice space in this build­ing and re­quires park­ing for their pa­trol cars as well.

In sum­mary, dur­ing win­ter months the Phelps St. build­ing’s park­ing sit­u­a­tion will be dis­as­trous. An­other caveat is the fact the snow­plough has to ma­noeu­vre on the street and in the park­ing lot to dump and re­move a moun­tain of snow on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Any cars parked out front, even tem­po­rar­ily, risk be­ing dam­aged.

The coun­cil stated the so­lu­tion to the park­ing dilemma in the area will be ad­dressed by their us­ing the nearby mu­nic­i­pal park­ing lot. Un­for­tu­nately, in win­ter there is no park­ing on the streets. There­fore, the park­ing lot in ques­tion is the only park­ing avail­able to many home­own­ers who have no drive­way or garage, as well as the res­i­dents of the apart­ment build­ing on Church Street. The city has of­fered these res­i­dents use of the mu­nic­i­pal park­ing lot for their cars in win­ter. Are lo­cal res­i­dents sup­posed to park streets away from their homes if Town Hall staff and visi­tors are fill­ing the park­ing lot and street?

There are ob­vi­ous ques­tions that re­quire con­sid­er­a­tion in this is­sue, most par­tic­u­larly by Town Coun­cil. The aes­thetic as­pects of the cur­rent build­ing are not the most press­ing con­cerns. There are some who be­lieve Stanstead’s Town Hall should have a more so­phis­ti­cated, modern, or stately ap­pear­ance. In an ideal world that is a grand the­ory, but what about the lean­ing phone poles flank­ing ei­ther side of Duf­ferin Street lead­ing to the Town Hall and the aban­doned red house up the street as one ap­proaches?

It is un­der­stand­able that the Town Coun­cil may need more space. But if the old Cus­toms Build­ing has room for Town Coun­cil meet­ings now, then why are they not held there? The coun­cil need not re­lo­cate to uti­lize the larger space avail­able at Phelps Street. Fur­ther­more, if large meet­ings are re­lo­cated to Phelps St. that would free up the cur­rent meet­ing

Ac­cord­ingroom at Duf­ferin, which can be con­verted to pri­vate of­fices and re­solve the space and pri­vacy is­sues the coun­cil now face. This ren­o­va­tion would be cost ef­fec­tive and far less than $50,000 to up­grade Phelps Street. There are many more cost ef­fec­tive meth­ods of ad­dress­ing the needs of coun­cil with­out huge ren­o­va­tions. It will mostly re­quire get­ting in your cars and trav­el­ling to Phelps Street once a month for Town Coun­cil meet­ings and for the rare oc­ca­sion a meet­ing room is re­quired. This will also al­low the Cul­tural Cen­tre to con­tinue to use the Phelps St. lo­ca­tion for their com­mu­nity events and classes, as they do presently. There are lots of bet­ter ideas to con­sider, and they won’t cost tax pay­ers a lot of money. A pub­lic dis­cus­sion is def­i­nitely in or­der.

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En­vi­ron­ment Canada’s me­te­o­rol­o­gist, An­dré Cantin, we’ve just had a nor­mal win­ter. Hard to be­lieve since it’s April 4th, I’ve run out of fire­wood and I still have snow three feet thick in the yard.

For snow ac­cu­mu­la­tion be­tween Novem­ber 1st, 2010, and March 31st, 2011, at the Sher­brooke weather sta­tion, the to­tal was 291.1 cen­time­tres. The ‘nor­mal’ amount of snow­fall for that pe­riod is ac­tu­ally higher: 294 cen­time­tres. Ar­eas in the East­ern Town­ships at high el­e­va­tion may have re­ceived much more than that amount.

What has made the win­ter seem in­ter­minable is not ac­tu­ally how much snow has fallen, but when most of it fell, which was in Fe­bru­ary and March. From Novem­ber to Jan­uary, we re­ceived a lit­tle less snow than usual, how­ever, dur­ing those two months when many of us are start­ing to long for spring, we got clob­bered.

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