Where should City Hall be?

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

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.

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