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.
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.