Cupids Legacy Centre up for grabs
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.