Train sta­tion move still on

Rec com­mit­tee presents pe­ti­tion to Clarke’s Beach coun­cil

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

The Town of Clarke’s Beach will move ahead with its plan to re­lo­cate the rail­way sta­tion, in spite of ev­i­dence show­ing con­sid­er­able op­po­si­tion within the com­mu­nity to coun­cil’s de­ci­sion.

Amanda Ralph, a mem­ber of the recre­ation com­mit­tee, pre­sented a pe­ti­tion to coun­cil with the names of 416 res­i­dents of Clarke’s Beach, ask­ing coun­cil to re­con­sider its po­si­tion.

Ralph says the com­mit­tee’s con­cerns re­volve around the is­sue of whether the sta­tion could be dam­aged by the move, as well as whether the move would hin­der its chances of ob­tain­ing fund­ing to help turn it into a tourist chalet, café, and crafts store.

Af­ter pre­sent­ing the pe­ti­tion to coun­cil, Ralph says she sensed some coun­cil mem­bers were not open to hear­ing from dis­sent­ing voices in the com­mu­nity.

“Any­body who goes to those meet­ings knows they’re al­ways be­lit­tling each other and call­ing each other names — it’s worse than a Grade 5 class­room,” says Ralph, re­fer­ring to coun­cil­lors’ ways of deal­ing with one an­other at meet­ings.

At the Sept. 10 coun­cil meet­ing, a mo­tion to al­low for the re­lo­ca­tion of the rail­way sta­tion from the in­ter­sec­tion of Main Street and the old rail­way bed to the site of the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing on the Con­cep­tion Bay High­way was passed by a 3-2 vote.

Coun­cil­lors Garry Ben­dell, Win­ston Vokey and El­don Snow sup­ported the mo­tion, while Mayor Betty Moore and Deputy Mayor Kevin Hussey voted against it. Two other coun­cil­lors, Roland An­drews and David Moore, were not present at the Sept. 10 meet­ing.

The pub­lic works com­mit­tee es­ti­mated the cost of re­lo­ca­tion to be be­tween $18,000 and $20,000.

Calls to move the rail­way sta­tion came as a re­sult of con­cerns over van­dal­ism and loi­ter­ing at the site. Ralph ap­pears un­con­vinced that the move will prove ef­fec­tive.

“By mov­ing the build­ing, you’re not re­mov­ing the prob­lem — you’re just mov­ing the prob­lem to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion,” she says. “ We need a place for kids to hang out in­stead of throw rocks and beer bot­tles.”

Coun. Snow, who also sits on the pub­lic works com­mit­tee, says coun­cil as a whole made the de­ci­sion.

“ It was voted on and passed,” he says.

As for the pe­ti­tion, Snow says most names on it were of peo­ple not liv­ing in di­rect vicin­ity to the present site of the rail­way sta­tion.

Ralph ex­pects young peo­ple will now loi­ter be­hind a struc­ture lo­cally re­ferred to as the flower shed.

“ That’s go­ing to be even closer to the peo­ple who are com­plain­ing,” she says, re­fer­ring to those liv­ing in close prox­im­ity to the rail­way sta­tion.

There have been is­sues of loi­ter­ing in the area by the rail­way sta­tion for as long as Snow can re­mem­ber, and the 70-year-old councillor says acts of van­dal­ism are a more re­cent devel­op­ment.

“The con­cern of coun­cil is what are we go­ing to do with it? Are we just go­ing to take it down and have it torn down, try to do some­thing with it there as it is, or move it to an­other lo­ca­tion?” Preser­va­tion Tear­ing down the build­ing may have proven the quick­est so­lu­tion, but Snow says the build­ing has value.

“ It has his­toric value ... we spent money in the past to try and build it up, and the next week you’d go there and it would be spray-painted with vul­gar­i­ties. It’s not nice.”

The rail­way sta­tion’s re­lo­ca­tion is de­pen­dent on a sep­a­rate mat­ter in­volv­ing the town and the pro­vin­cial govern­ment. To cre­ate land to ac­com­mo­date a mu­nic­i­pal garage and po­ten­tially a por­tion of the rail­way sta­tion, the town be­gan to dump fill in a sec­tion of the pond — known lo­cally as the Glam — ad­ja­cent to the mu­nic­i­pal build­ing. The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Con­ser­va­tion put a stop to that work when it flagged the town for not ob­tain­ing the nec­es­sary per­mits.

Mayor Moore says the town now must wait for the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion in the pond to de­ter­mine whether the fill would im­pact any in­hab­i­tant of the pond, such as trout.

Moore says the town has not yet be­gun to seek quotes on work to re­lo­cate the rail­way sta­tion. She says the rail­way sta­tion would likely be very close to the area where fill po­ten­tially may be added.

As for the recre­ation com­mit­tee, Ralph says her group would still like to even­tu­ally see the rail­way sta­tion be put to good use, whether or not it gets moved.

“ We’d like to get it done up as an in­for­ma­tion cen­tre and a place where peo­ple can go and sell arts and crafts and em­ploy a stu­dent in the sum­mer.”

How­ever, she says the com­mit­tee would be un­will­ing to of­fer its own funds to go to­wards the project if the build­ing does get moved.

“It’s not vin­dic­tive. It’s be­cause we prob­a­bly won’t be able to af­ford it.”

The com­mit­tee’s stance ap­par­ently alien­ated two mem­bers who’ve since left the group. One of those, Ch­eryl Tay­lor, sent a let­ter to coun­cil in sup­port of the rail­way sta­tion be­ing re­lo­cated. Four mem­bers re­main on the com­mit­tee.

File photo

A pe­ti­tion with the names of 416 res­i­dents of Clarke’s Beach did not sway the town coun­cil to re­con­sider a mo­tion to re­lo­cate the rail­way sta­tion. Amanda Ralph pre­sented the pe­ti­tion on be­half of the recre­ation com­mit­tee at the Oct. 4 coun­cil meet­ing.

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