Council will seek public and staff input before making decision to purchase former school
Marmora and Lake - A decision regarding expressing interest in purchasing the former Earl Prentice School has been deferred until the next meeting of council.
At its December 18 meeting, council discussed a report submitted by CAO Typhany Choinard that recommended the municipality not submit an expression of interest to begin the process of acquiring the facility.
“While there has been some interest from members of the public there are critical infrastructure and financial issues that would be an immense burden to the community,” the report said.
Among the concerns listed is the high cost for removal of asbestos currently present in the building, as well as the potential replacement costs for parts of the roof, doors and windows, upgrades to the fire system and emergency lighting and replacement of plumbing, electrical and heating systems.
The estimated cost of all the repairs could surpass $3 million on top of the fair market value purchase price, which has not yet been determined, the report added.
Councillors Bernie Donaldson, Jason Carman, Ron Derry and Mayor Jan O’Neill expressed the opinion that council needs more time and information to make a decision.
“I think we should leave our options open until the residents have a say,” said Councillor Donaldson, adding that there may be a need for the facility if the proposed pumped storage project gets approval in the near future.
Councillor Carman agreed with Donaldson’s thoughts, also pointing out that the lack of opportunity for new construction in the municipality.
“There are currently very few building lots available and in order for Marmora to expand to serve the people, this would be prime land available for housing construction,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Stevens stood alone in his support of the CAO’s report.
“I think we have enough capacity within our existing facilities and buildings,” he said. “I don’t want to own property in the town that may be developed later on. That’s not our job and it’s not our business.”
Mayor O’Neill suggested deferring the motion to the next meeting in order to gather input from the Economic Development department as well as the Treasurer and Building and By-Law Official.
“I don’t think we have enough information at this point to draw a conclusion,” she said. “We need to know the price and what they (The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board) are expecting.”
Council passed Mayor O’Neill’s motion defer unanimously as well as a second motion for the municipality to host a round table meeting with community stakeholders to provide input to council regarding the school property.
More information about the meeting will be available in the near future. Council will make a final decision about submitting an expression of interest at its January 15 meeting in order to meet the school board’s deadline of January 21, 2019