September's New Tecumseth council meetings have come and gone while the
future of Alliston Memorial Arena remains in limbo.
Back in May, following the tabling of the arena task force committee's
report to council, the decision had been initially postponed to flush
out further information as to whether the sprinkler system, installed
for an ice arena, could handle the dry uses. As well, accessibilty
issues were to be determined. It was expected then to take a couple
weeks. It has yet to resurface.
In the meantime, the Town and Richard Norcross started to renegotiate
his lease of the Hornet's Nest and the exclusive rights he held on
alcohol and food sales at the New Tecumseth Recreation Centre. The
fruits of those talks culminated last Monday night with councillors
voting unanimously to pay him $50,000 in 2013 to give up those rights,
and the restaurant, but he will continue to hold concession and vending
rights at the NTRC for the next 10 years if he chooses.
New Tecumseth buying back the alcohol rights is a key development in
the memorial arena stakes because the most consistent argument the Town
and council has heard from those fighting to save the Nelson Street
facility has been the exclusivity Mr. Norcross held at the NTRC. That
is now off the table since the Town's plan is to use the Hornet's Nest
space to accommodate special permits - Jack and Jills, fundraisers etc
that include alcohol sales. How that will work is still subject to
further reports, but it's expected to be a "seamless transition."
As well, councillors voted in August to make an estimated $2 million
worth of work to refurbish Alliston Arena the top priority for a
federal government funding program that provides up to 50 per cent
financing. It's not clear when a decision is expected to be announced,
but the successful projects are to be completed by March 2014.
Mayor Mike MacEachern, who said in July the arena decision was being
put off to September so residents who wanted to be on hand for the
final debate would be back from summer holidays, could not provide a
time line for its return to the council table.
The mayor explained via email this week that the arena decision was not
delayed because of the negotiations going on between the Town and Mr.
Norcross, but rather to get more detailed information as to the works
required and their cost.
A structural inspection of the arena conducted in June 2011, determined
it "is in generally good condition, however isolated repairs should be
completed as follows at an estimated cost of about $25,000:
* Reinforce 33 wood joists with significant checks
* Replace decayed wood posts supporting the south
* Repair the roof upturns between the arena and the
community centre, and maintain roof sealants.
* Repaint cracked and open masonry joints at the
exterior concrete block walls.
"Aside from the limited focus on structural repairs, accessibility, and
other general safety concerns were raised as issues should the facility
continue to be used in the short to medium term," wrote Mayor
MacEachern. "The cost estimates associated with any necessary and
required upgrades were also discussed so actual quotes from contractors
have been sought to get the costs of required work to reflect actual
costs. There was a commitment to ensure that the info was available far
enough ahead of a meeting that all those participating would have ample
time to review it and be able to actively participate. Management of
the facility was a part of the report to come forward. This option had
to be researched and a part of the report."