Cupids Le­gacy Cen­tre up for grabs

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

The Town of Cupids could be chang­ing its ad­dress in the near fu­ture.

That de­pends on whether it fol­lows through on a de­ci­sion to move out of the old fire hall and pur­chase the Cupids Le­gacy Cen­tre. Along with mov­ing its space, the town would as­sume own­er­ship of the five-year-old build­ing.

In an un­usual move, Cupids is leav­ing the de­ci­sion whether it will move its town of­fices up to its cit­i­zens rather than do­ing so in a regular coun­cil meet­ing.

“It will be ex­actly like a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion,” said Cupids Mayor Harold Ak­er­man. “In­stead of se­lect­ing a can­di­date, they will be asked to an­swer yes or no to a set ques­tion.”

Res­i­dents of Cupids of vot­ing age will be asked to cast their bal­lot on the mat­ter on April 30, two days af­ter a public in­for­ma­tion ses­sion is held at the Cupids Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on April 28.

Since be­ing ap­proached last Oc­to­ber, the town has mulled over the idea, with the is­sue di­vid­ing the coun­cil down the mid­dle. There are two town rep­re­sen­ta­tives who sit on the board — one of them be­ing the mayor — and of­fi­cials de­cided to do a public vote rather than open them­selves up to any per- ceived con­flicts of in­ter­est.

The of­fer as it stands now would see the Town of Cupids pur­chas­ing the build­ing — orig­i­nally built to hon­our the Cupids 400 cel­e­bra­tion — for the nomi- nal fee of $1. The town would then as­sume the op­er­at­ing costs as­so­ci­ated with the cen­tre, which run in the range of $37,000 an­nu­ally.

Ak­er­man feels it is an op­por­tu­nity his town can­not over­look. It of­fers Cupids a state-of-the-art mu­nic­i­pal build­ing — the mu­seum and the CLC will re­main op­er­a­tional — that re­quires min­i­mal up­keep and can be move-in ready in a cou­ple of weeks.

The town would need to ren­o­vate the arche­ol­ogy lab into of­fice space and a coun­cil cham­bers.

The mayor stressed the dayto-day op­er­a­tions of the town would not change, and nei­ther would the plethora of com­mu­nity events that hap­pen at the cur­rent build­ing.

“What’ll hap­pen to the old build­ing, we don’t know,” said Ak­er­man. “Coun­cil will de­cide that if the vote goes through.”

The cost

At first glance, the al­most $37,000 an­nual cost seems steep for a town the size of Cupids. That in­cludes $16,000 for heat and light, $9,610 for in­sur­ance, as well as a $12,800 bill for re­pair and main­te­nance.

The town’s cost for heat and light would re­main the same, but they would save in other ar­eas if they took over the buidling. Through sav­ings on in­sur­ance and main­te­nance and re­pairs, the town es­ti­mates the an­nual cost will fall to $32,000. That num­ber will drop fur­ther when you fac­tor in po­ten­tial rental in­come, rent paid by the CLC and elec­tri­cal sav­ings fore­casted by the town.

Ak­er­man said his town has the fi­nan­cial where­withal to han­dle such a move. The town’s bud­get this year is set at $637,374 and in­cludes funds al­lo­cated for re­pairs to the ex­ist­ing town hall or le­gacy cen­tre op­er­a­tions should the move be ap­proved next week.

“Fi­nan­cially, our town is in good shape,” said Ak­er­man. “We have the town in good or­der and last year we had a sur­plus. It’s the first sur­plus in a long­time.”

The town will only as­sume costs of op­er­at­ing the build­ing — any Cupids Le­gacy Board ex­penses such as salaries, di­rec­tors in­sur­ance or in­sur­ance on ar­ti­facts will re­main the board’s re­spon­si­bil­ity. The CLC would still be able to run its regular fundrais­ers.

“There will not be any tax in­crease to the res­i­dents,” said Ak­er­man.

Seiz­ing an op­por­tu­nity

Lloyd Kane is the vice chair­man of the Cupids Le­gacy Board. He said space be­came avail­able when the ar­chae­ol­ogy lab on the first floor of the cen­tre de­cided it was mov­ing its space.

With that in mind, the group ap­proached the town about as­sum­ing con­trol of the build­ing, while al­low­ing the group to keep op­er­at­ing in the build­ing for a nom­i­nal fee.

“This would be a long term op­er­a­tional agree­ment,” said Kane. “It is an op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue and pros­per.”

This wasn’t the first time the group ap­proached the town about be­ing a part of the Cupids Le­gacy Cen­tre. Be­fore it was con­structed in 2009, the coun­cil of the day was of­fered space, but they re­fused, cit­ing a smaller fi­nan­cial bur­den if the town moved into the com­mu­nity cen­tre.

“(The Le­gacy Cen­tre) is a well­built build­ing,” said Kane. “It is very eco­nom­i­cal to op­er­ate. It was the first green build­ing in Con­cep­tion Bay North.”

Naysay­ers

The pos­si­ble move is not with­out its de­trac­tors. It is not sit­ting well with a group of cit­i­zens.

Since re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion of the plan, they’ve been cir­cu­lat­ing a pe­ti­tion ask­ing peo­ple to sign their sup­port to stay at the hall and vote against the move when the time comes.

“We can­not af­ford to pur­chase an en­tity that is not eco­nom­i­cally sus­tain­able to en­sure the Cupids Le­gacy Inc. that the lights will never go off,” wrote the peti- tion. “We do not want the town of­fice to move into the Cupids Le­gacy Cen­tre now or ever.”

“I’m afraid of my tax dol­lars,” Cupids res­i­dent Fran­cis Walsh told The Compass.

Pre­vi­ous plans

It has only been in the last year that Cupids re­ceived some $450,000 from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment for the con­struc­tion of new town hall. Some $50,000 of that was spent on fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies and plan­ning be­fore this new of­fer was pre­sented.

Ak­er­man said the re­main­ing money will be re­al­lo­cated to other projects such as up­grades to the 30-year-old wa­ter pump­ing sys­tem and the in­stal­la­tion of an emer­gency en­ergy sup­ply in case of power out­ages.

“We see it as a win-win for the Town of Cupids,” said Ak­er­man.

The public meet­ing is set for 7 p.m. at the Cupids Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on April 28. The vote will oc­cur be­tween 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the cen­tre on April 30.

If any cit­i­zen ex­pects they will not be around April 30 and would like a proxy ap­pli­ca­tion, it must be picked up and re­turned to the town hall by 4 p.m. on April 29.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COMPASS

Cupids Mayor Harold Ak­er­man stands in front of the Cupids Le­gacy Cen­tre. His town could as­sume own­er­ship of the build­ing, depend­ing on the out­come of a public vote.

The Town of Cupids has been op­er­at­ing out of the Cupids Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

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