Let’s have a plebiscite on the arts cen­tre

Tri-County Vanguard - - OPINION -

I am writ­ing this let­ter to a re­ply to a let­ter to the ed­i­tor, pub­lished in the TriCounty Van­guard’s May 2, 2018 edi­tion.

The let­ter states that it’s re­fresh­ing to see the town take the lead on a new arts cen­tre. A decade ago Th’YARC had all of its fund­ing in place to build pretty much the same thing at their lo­ca­tion on Pa­rade Street. They did not ask for one penny from the town, just a let­ter from town coun­cil show­ing that the coun­cil ap­proved of this site. The town re­fused to is­sue one. We would have been en­joy­ing that new cen­tre for the past seven to eight years if it wasn’t for coun­cil’s short sight­ed­ness.

Also, the pro­posed site on Pa­rade Street in­cor­po­rated a park­ing lot that would be large enough for all pa­trons to use. The town’s pro­posal is to be built around an old house and will see pa­trons still park­ing on the street. The state­ment that our coun­cil should be praised at this point causes me to flinch. They want to spend $30 mil­lion or more on this arts cen­tre (my money and yours), but at the same time are look­ing to elim­i­nate four dis­patcher jobs in our com­mu­nity to save a quar­ter of a mil­lion or less by the time you still pay for dis­patcher ser­vices lo­cated else­where.

The main com­pet­ing project is Th’YARC. They’ve been around for 40 years or more, so doesn’t that sug­gest that the town is com­pet­ing with them? Not vice versa? The town coun­cil, if it had any scru­ples, should bow out and sup­port the al­ready ex­ist­ing en­tity. Forty years! Wow! They must be do­ing some­thing right out there on Pa­rade Street.

Maybe the lo­ca­tion of a new arts cen­tre should go to ar­bi­tra­tion. Bet­ter yet, why not have a plebiscite of all res­i­dents in Yarmouth Town, Yarmouth Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the District of Ar­gyle? Let all the peo­ple in this area have a say as to where they feel a new arts cen­tre should be lo­cated. They are the ones pay­ing the taxes that sup­port grants for such en­deav­ours.

The let­ter was cor­rect in point­ing out the sup­port of lo­cal gov­ern­ment is es- sen­tial to get projects com­pleted. Where is town coun­cil’s sup­port for an ex­ist­ing en­tity that has been quite suc­cess­ful for 40 years, draw­ing peo­ple from all over to this town?

It was also stated a new arts cen­tre would be a show­case for the arts, would also con­trib­ute to the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the town, en­hance tourism po­ten­tial and ben­e­fit the en­tire re­gion. Let me ask you, the read­ers – wouldn’t all of this take place whether this arts cen­tre was lo­cated near Main Street or a 10-minute walk away at the Pa­rade Street lo­ca­tion? Of course it would.

I’d ask more of the pub­lic to de­mand the plebiscite I men­tioned ear­lier, so this is­sue can be put to bed and we can move on to build a new arts cen­tre wher­ever the pub­lic feels is best; not the mayor, deputy mayor and five other coun­cil­lors. With this much con­tro­versy and money at stake the pub­lic should have a say in this mat­ter.

Brenda O’Con­nell, Yarmouth

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