Arena odyssey

Har­bour Grace, Car­bon­ear of­fi­cials still dis­cussing re­gional ap­proach; Kennedy ‘ very con­cerned’

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRYROBERTS THE COM­PASS BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

The Spa­niard’s Bay res­i­dent who died in a vi­o­lent head-on col­li­sion on Vet­er­ans Memo­rial High­way last week was a gi­ant of a man who adored his fam­ily, was crazy about football and had a smile that could light up a room.

That’s how Sarah Bignell de­scribed Blaine Des­Roches, her 24-year-old com­mon-law hus­band, on Fri­day.

“He was a big teddy bear of a man. He of­ten in­tim­i­dated peo­ple by his size, but he was the sweet­est guy in the world,” Sarah told The Com­pass.

Bignell said her only con­so­la­tion is that their last words be­fore Blaine left their res­i­dence on Mon­day, Nov. 5 was “I love you.”

“We had this fash­ion. He would say ‘I love you.’ I would say ‘I love you more.’ And he would say ‘I love you most.’ That’s how we parted,” Sarah stated.

Deadly im­pact

Just be­fore 8 a . m. on Nov. 5, Blaine was trav­el­ling to Car­bon­ear aboard the cou­ple’s Chevy Im­pala, pre­par­ing for an­other day of classes in the Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety pro­gram at Keyin Col­lege. But wit­nesses tell po­lice his ve­hi­cle veered into the on­com­ing lane and col­lided prac­ti­cally head-on with a Hyundai Tiburon, which was be­ing driven by 22-year-old Shearstown na­tive Wil­iam Earle. Earle was trav­el­ling from Car­bon­ear to his job in Bay Roberts at the time.

The im­pact was dev­as­tat­ing, and both ve­hi­cles were com­pletely de­stroyed. The wreck also left two bro­ken and bat­tered young men pinned inside the crumpled cars, and shocked mo­torists scram­bling to sum­mon help for the two vic­tims.

Over the next hour or so, fire­fight­ers from Har­bour Grace, Car­bon­ear

Pro­vin­cial of­fi­cials have set a time­line for the Town of Har­bour Grace to de­cide whether or not it wants to pro­ceed with the con­struc­tion of a new arena in the community.

And if the town can­not com­mit to the project by mid-De­cem­ber, it will be of­fered to “an­other town in the area,” Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA J erom e Kennedy told The Com­pass last week.

“In these times of eco­nomic re­straint, we can’t leave $21 mil­lion on the ta­ble for­ever with­out some in­di­ca­tion from the town whether they are go­ing to move ahead,” Kennedy stated. and Bay Roberts, along with med­i­cal Kennedy and Mu­nic­i­pal per­son­nel, po­lice and high­way Af­fairs Min­is­ter Kevin O’Brien are en­force­ment, called upon all their . “very con­cerned” with the on­go­train­ing and in­stincts in or­der to free ing un­cer­tainty over the project, the two men. and “what did not ap­pear to me

Wil­liam was the first to be placed to be very much progress.” aboard an am­bu­lance and taken to The ul­ti­ma­tum came dur­ing a Car­boner Gen­eral Hospi­tal. He meet­ing be­tween Kennedy, re­mains in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, hav­ing O’Brien and town of­fi­cials on Oct. suf­fered ex­ten­sive in­juries, and was 17. un­der­go­ing surgery on Fri­day. “We put it to them squarely: do

“He has a long road ahead of him,” you want the sta­dium or not?” Melinda Pauls, Wil­liam’s aunt, told said Ken­ndy. The Com­pass. Kennedy stressed that it’s his

Wil­liam is the fa­ther of two young pref­er­ence that the rink be built chil­dren, ages 3 and 5. in Har­bour Grace, but added

Mean­while, it took fire­fight­ers and “some­one has to make a de­ci­sion paramedics much longer to re­move on this.” Blaine from the wreck­age.

Us­ing spe­cial­ized ex­tri­ca­tion tools and ex­er­cis­ing great care, fire­fight­ers cut away large sec­tions of the car, in­clud­ing the roof, all the while try­ing to com­fort Blaine, who was still con­scious.

Har­bour Grace Chief Ray Verge said it was a “very dif­fi­cult” ex­tri­ca­tion, and his team did ev­ery­thing they could to com­fort Blaine.

Costly project

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced 14 months ago that it would fi­nance up to 80 per cent of $21-plus mil­lion for a new arena in Har­bour Grace, re­plac­ing the ven­er­a­ble S. W. Moores Me­mo­ria l S ta­dium, which opened in 1958.

The project has been gen­er­at­ing plenty of de­bate ever since, with many ques­tion­ing whether Har­bour Grace can af­ford the project. Two mem­bers of coun­cil — Wen­dell Hunt and David Mur­phy — have con­sis­tently voted against it.

If Har­bour Grace were to move for­ward with a plan to ac­cept the en­tire amount, its share would amount to some $3.8 mil­lion. Some town of­fi­cials have ac­knowl­edged that’s too much for the town of 3,000 to han­dle on its own, and have reached out to neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for help.

There have been sev­eral meet­ings to gauge the in­ter­est of other town coun­cils, but it now ap­pears that only Car­bon­ear is se­ri­ous about a re­gional ap­proach.

Af­ter weeks of in­creas­ing skep­ti­cism and ques­tions about the ini­tia­tive, of­fi­cials from both towns, along with two rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, met on Nov. 6 to dis­cuss a way for­ward.

From that meet­ing, a com­mit­tee com­prised of deputy may­ors Terry Barnes (Har­bour Grace) and Ches Ash (Car­bon­ear) and town ad­min­is­tra­tors Lester For­ward (Har­bour Grace) and Cyn­thia Davis (Car­bon­ear) was formed. The com­mit­tee has been tasked to pre­pare a rec­om­men­da­tion, which is expected to be voted on by the re­spec­tive towns dur­ing sep­a­rate coun­cil meet­ings on Nov. 19.

A joint-meet­ing is planned for Nov. 20 to dis­cuss the out­come of the vote, ex­plained Har­bour Grace Mayor Don Coombs.

“We’ll de­cide whether to move ahead jointly, and if not, the towns of Har­bour Grace or Car­bon­ear can look at it and see if the op­por­tu­nity is there to take it on by them­selves. But right now it’s pro­posed to move ahead jointly,” Coombs said.

Gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion

“We’re still in a process of gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion in or­der to get to a point where it can be taken to the re­spec­tive town coun­cils,” added For­ward. That in­cludes pro­jec­tions on oper­at­ing costs and rev­enues.

When asked if that means hav­ing Car­bon­ear pick up a share of the cap­i­tal costs on a per capita ba­sis, and help­ing off­set any an­nual oper­at­ing sub­si­dies, For­ward replied: “Those are the things we’re talk­ing about.”

Other con­sid­er­a­tions in­clude a sys­tem by which the arena will be ad­min­is­tered, and whether it will be a re­gional board sim­i­lar to the one in place at Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.

The S. W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium is owned and op­er­ated by the Town of Har­bour Grace, and an­nual sub­si­dies range from $50,000 to $80,000, For­ward noted.

Don Coombs is mayor of the Town of Har­bour Grace.

Many feel that by work­ing co- op­er­a­tively, the re­gion can build the arena it needs, mod­elled largely af­ter the Jack Byrne Memo­rial Sta­dium in Tor­bay. That fa­cil­ity was con­structed at a cost of some $15 mil­lion sev­eral years, but the price tag to­day for a sim­i­lar fa­cil­ity would be in the range of $ 21 mil lion , For­ward ex­plained.

If Har­bour Grace were to go it alone, For­ward sug­gested the town might have to down­size the project.

“Can Har­bour Grace af­ford a sta­dium that’s be­tween $12 and $15 mil­lion? Maybe,” he said.

Kennedy is not sold on the idea of par­ing down the project, sug­gest­ing it “would not be the best use of the money.”

Coombs agreed, stat­ing “I don’t be­lieve that would be nec­es­sary, based on as­sets we have we can dis­pose of and fi­nanc­ing terms and ev­ery­thing else.”

For­ward said it would be a mis­take to over­bur­den the town by tak­ing on too much debt for a new sta­dium, since other pri­or­i­ties — wa­ter and sewer, road up­grades and more — can­not be over­looked.

For­ward said one op­tion be­ing con­sid­ered is rais­ing a por­tion or all of the mu­nic­i­pal share through spon­sor­ship and the sale of the ex­ist­ing sta­dium.

“Will it be nec­es­sary to bor­row that whole amount? These are things that are be­ing ex­plored,” For­ward said.

Car­bon­ear Mayor Sam Slade did not at­tend last week’s meet­ing, but re­it­er­ated his be­lief that pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions will be needed be­fore coun­cil makes any firm de­ci­sions.

Sam Slade is mayor of the Town of Car­bon­ear.

“We have no man­date to move with­out hav­ing con­sul­ta­tions,” said Slade. “The peo­ple of Car­bon­ear elected us … when we talk about tak­ing that kind of money and putting it into an­other community, we do not have that man­date.

“But if the peo­ple tell me this is a good thing, I will sign on the bot­tom line.”

Mean­while, it’s now been two months since the Har­bour Grace town coun­cil made its rec­om­men­da­tion to the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs about what com­pany should be awarded the con­tract to carry out the engi­neer­ing and de­sign work on the project.

Six firms sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als, and the top com­pany was se­lected on a spe­cial­ized scor­ing sys­tem. Of­fi­cials from the town and Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs scored the pro­pos­als, For­ward ex­plained.

O’Brien has not yet signed off on the town’s se­lec­tion.

One of the is­sues to be de­ter­mined by the firm is lo­ca­tion. For­ward said there are two, and pos­si­bly

“The peo­ple of Car­bon­ear elected us … when we talk about tak­ing that kind of money and putting it into an­other community, we do not have that

man­date.” — Car­bon­ear Mayor Sam Slade

Lester For­ward is town man­ager in Har­bour Grace.

a third, lo­ca­tion un­der con­sid­er­a­tion, and he brushed off any sug­ges­tion that it might be con­structed out­side of Har­bour Grace, per­haps in Car­bon­ear.

“As far as I’m con­cerned it will be in Har­bour Grace,” he said.

When asked when con­struc­tion might be­gin, For­ward said late 2013 is a likely tar­get.

“Har­bour Grace and Car­bon­ear have come to­gether on this and we’re do­ing our best to make it hap­pen. If there’s a way to make it hap­pen, we will,” For­ward said.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

This wrecked Hyun­dia Tiburon was be­ing driven by 22-year- old Wil­liam Earle of Shearstown.

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