Train station move still on
Rec committee presents petition to Clarke’s Beach council
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.
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.