De­mo­li­tion of his­toric water­front struc­ture ap­proved by Grand Bank coun­cil

Town hop­ing to sal­vage sec­tion of Sa­muel J. Har­ris Build­ing con­tain­ing theatre space

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY PAUL HERRIDGE GRAND BANK, N.L. [email protected]­erngazette.ca

Grand Bank coun­cil has taken the ini­tial step to tear down a por­tion of the Sa­muel J. Har­ris Build­ing on the town’s water­front.

A mo­tion was passed dur­ing coun­cil’s July 18 meet­ing to pro­ceed with the de­mo­li­tion of the Sea King fish plant sec­tion of the struc­ture while try­ing to sal­vage an­other part that con­tains the Grand Bank Re­gional Theatre space.

“We have to do what we have to do,” Mayor Rex Matthews said. “It might meet with some re­sis­tance, but we got to do what’s safe for our peo­ple.”

The Sea King sec­tion has not been main­tained and is in very poor con­di­tion, so much so weather has be­come a ma­jor con­cern.

Matthews said the town con­sulted with its solic­i­tor this month about li­a­bil­ity in ad­vance of Trop­i­cal Storm Chris.

He said they were told if the town has re­li­able opin­ions from pro­fes­sion­als that the build­ing is a hazard, it should be taken down re­gard­less of fund­ing or any storms.

“And we have got those opin­ions,” Matthews said.

The town, which ob­tained the build­ing af­ter the former fish plant busi­ness went into re­ceiver­ship, had re­ceived per­mis­sion from fire of­fi­cials to use the theatre por­tion of the struc­ture for the last few sum­mers. Ap­proval was de­nied this year, how­ever, due to the over­all state of the build­ing.

“It’s gone. I mean, all sup­ports in that build­ing is gone. Ev­ery­thing is bro­ken off. One good wind, we’re go­ing to have ma­jor prob­lems on our hands,” Matthews ac­knowl­edged dur­ing the dis­cus­sion.

Not­ing the his­tor­i­cal as­pect of the build­ing, Matthews said some peo­ple might say the town should fix it up. Find­ing a use for such a big struc­ture, how­ever, would be chal­leng­ing, he sug­gested.

“I think, Mr. Mayor, the safety as­pect out­weighs the per­sonal com­ments we’re go­ing to have on that par­tic­u­lar is­sue,” Coun­cil­lor Jack Bur­fitt said.

Town man­ager Wayne Bolt, mean­while, sug­gested the space opened up from the de­mo­li­tion of the build­ing could be use­ful for the town’s down­town and water­front rede­vel­op­ment project.

The mo­tion passed also called for the mat­ter to be resolved in a timely man­ner with safety as the main con­cern.

Matthews said coun­cil will need some time to meet with the provin­cial gov­ern­ment to ne­go­ti­ate pos­si­ble fund­ing to as­sist with re­moval of the build­ing.

“If any storms comes up, we’ll take the same pre­cau­tions we took the last time while we’re try­ing to do this,” Matthews said. “We all un­der­stand the ur­gency here.”

PAUL HERRIDGE/THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Coun­cil passed a mo­tion dur­ing its July 18 meet­ing to pro­ceed with the de­mo­li­tion of the Sea King por­tion of the Sa­muel J. Har­ris Build­ing. Lo­cated on the Grand Bank water­front, the struc­ture has be­come a ma­jor safety con­cern, ac­cord­ing to coun­cil.

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