Where should City Hall be?
Wehave already written about the desire of Stanstead’s elected officials to move from what is surely one of the ugliest City Halls in Quebec to the former Custom and Post Office building in Rock Island. We maintain that this would be an appropriate place to house our municipal administration.
Those same elected officials also know the preference of the publisher of this paper to have City Hall moved elsewhere, in a modern existing building with ample parking, easy accessibility and visibility. The owners of that building are also aware of this preference.
There is now a genuine opposition building up against the town project and the cost associated with renovating a heritage building to serve a public administration. This can only be more than expected.
We think that council should seriously consider another venue for our City Hall. We may be forcing the issue a bit, but our preference would have a genuinely positive impact for our retail business offering. Those who built there did so when promises of a development of a huge tract of land, still owned by the town, were made and that this land would be used for commercial purposes. It was not, for numerous reasons, and it would be unfair to blame the present municipal administration for the woes that befell us under the previous one; the less said about it is better for our collective health.
Still, the fact remains that a commercial space was built, with the promises of Stanstead’s then mayor that a huge commercial development would spring up in its vicinity. The town can evidently not be held responsible for a business decision, this is not how our political and economic system works, but it has to acknowledge the fact that it’s hard for a retail establishment to prosper when it is all alone, by itself.
We admit that the cost of acquiring this building and renovating it to house City Hall would be greater than the actual project, but not by much when we consider that this business would have to relocate itself on land already owned by the owners near what is now our ‘de facto’ commercial hub. This move, we believe, would also permit that business to flourish a lot more than it can at its present location. By having more clients from nearby commerce, it could be open more often and complement our retail offering. We also think that services, both public and private, associated with its field, would move in rapidly in such a project.
The building that we propose for our new City Hall can also easily accommodate the building of an attached Fire Station, with easier access to some equipment that the town may be forced to buy at a later date for our fire department.
If a decision was made early this spring we are sure that it could be open at its new location by next Christmas and that, by the summer of 2013, our eyesore of a City Hall could be torn down.
We propose this with the genuine hope that City Hall will consider it. The publisher proposed it privately, a long time ago, to all parties. By making it public today we hope that Council will study it. Its impact on our town would be bigger than the actual project: the financial cost that the whole town would have to bear being smaller than the accrued revenue of strengthening our local business offering.