Res­cue plan for plane

City coun­cil to vote next week on less costly restora­tion deal

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZAJAC

The Block­house Is­land Sabre Jet could stay in the air af­ter all.

Brockville coun­cil­lors have given pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval to a mo­tion to pay lo­cal artist Dave Sheri­dan to re­paint the vin­tage fighter jet, back­ing a con­tract just over half as costly as the one they re­jected in the spring.

The mo­tion heads to next Tues­day’s coun­cil meet­ing for a vote on fi­nal ap­proval.

“I think it’s quite rea­son­able for the work that we’re look­ing at now,” said Coun­cil­lor Phil Deery, who joined a vol­un­teer com­mit­tee formed in re­sponse to ear­lier fears the plane might have to be taken down.

The plane, which is a war me­mo­rial, is “a call­ing card for boaters pass­ing by,” added Deery.

Should coun­cil back the mo­tion next week, the city will spend $36,000 on the work, rather than the $66,144 ini­tially pro­posed.

In May, city coun­cil’s fi­nance, ad­min­is­tra­tion and op­er­a­tions com­mit­tee balked at that price tag and re­jected an ini­tial con­tract with a dif­fer­ent firm to re­paint the ag­ing plane.

The Golden Hawks Sabre Jet was do­nated to the city on June 23, 1968, in mem­ory of Cana­dian air crews who lost their lives.

But the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the plane’s paint job has reached the point where ei­ther some­thing has to be done about it, or the plane will have to be re­moved.

Fol­low­ing coun­cil’s ear­lier re­jec­tion of the con­tract, lo­cals came to­gether in an ef­fort to find so­lu­tions to avoid the re­moval of the Korean War-era F86 Sabre Jet.

Deery said he joined mem­bers of the vol­un­teer com­mit­tee on a trip to Sar­nia, where a sim­i­lar Sabre Jet restora­tion project hap­pened in 2014.

The trip con­vinced mem­bers that us­ing de­cals for the plane’s mark­ings, rather than paint­ing them di­rectly, was an op­tion for this project, said city op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Conal Cos­grove.

The vol­un­teer com­mit­tee, whose goal was to get the project done at an ac­cept­able cost, found other ways to save, such as do­na­tions of paint, de­cals and crane ser­vices.

City hall put out a fresh call for ten­ders as a re­sult.

“The low bid does fit in within the bud­get that is re­main­ing for the project,” added Cos­grove.

The city got three bids and chose the low­est, from Sheri­dan’s com­pany, Cre­ative Art Source Inc., in Mait­land.

The amount comes in un­der the op­er­a­tions de­part­ment project es­ti­mate of $40,000.

Cos­grove’s re­port to staff notes that Sheri­dan “has demon­strated the ca­pa­bil­ity of un­der­tak­ing this project through a va­ri­ety of com­mu­nity projects.”

I think it’s quite rea­son­able for the work that we’re look­ing at now,”

Phil Deery

Some of Sheri­dan’s other projects in­clude the Women’s Me­mo­rial sculp­ture lo­cated next to the Sabre Jet dis­play and the mu­ral at the Via Rail sta­tion.

The restora­tion is not the only work be­ing con­tem­plated for the Block­house Is­land war me­mo­rial.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers also hope to en­hance the land­scap­ing around it and resur­face the col­umn hold­ing up the plane, said Cos­grove.

They hope that work could be cov­ered by grants or com­mu­nity fundrais­ing.

Mayor David Hen­der­son noted that, fol­low­ing news the dis­play’s fu­ture may be in doubt, peo­ple did come for­ward say­ing they were will­ing to do­nate to the preser­va­tion ef­fort.

News of the plane’s de­te­ri­o­ra­tion fol­lowed an­other per­ilous episode more than a dozen years ago.

Work­ers had to re­move the plane from its pedestal in Au­gust 2004 af­ter city staff de­clared the structure un­sta­ble and a pub­lic haz­ard. The plane was grounded for months next to the pedestal while those re­pairs took place.

Last year, a study by the con­sult­ing firm Eastern En­gi­neer­ing con­cluded there are no fur­ther struc­tural con­cerns ei­ther with the con­crete col­umn or the plate that holds the plane to it.

RON­ALD ZAJAC/THE RECORDER AND TIMES

The laker John J. Boland makes its way along a windy St. Lawrence River as the Sabre Jet stands on Block­house Is­land on Wed­nes­day.

RON­ALD ZAJAC/THE RECORDER AND TIMES

Brockville Mayor David Hen­der­son con­fers with city clerk San­dra Mac­Don­ald at Tues­day's city coun­cil meet­ing.

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