Thursday, August 21, 2008

Last night's Council meeting - What was said (or not)

It has become clear that this won't be a daily blog. I created my account about a month ago and this is my first post.
Life is a busy thing. I won't complain though since most of this is my own doing. I choose where I am to become involved, don't I?
The thing which occupies most of my time these days (slightly ahead of the kid's baseball) is being on New Maryland Village Council.
I realize now that most of the major decisions of this council don't come easily.
Case in point is the Village's recent decision to purchase a piece of property we call the "Forbes property". The reason for this name is due to the present owners last name which is, oddly enough, Forbes.
I can talk about it now since our decision was made public at last night's open council meeting followed by an article in today's Daily Gleaner.
Prior to my being elected the village purchased a front small section of this large lot with the understanding that when the remainder of the property becomes available we would get first crack from the owner.
This opportunity came without warning a few weeks ago.
I can tell you with confidence that this was hashed out, rehashed, and hashed again until our decision was made to place an offer and the amount of the offer.
I won't bore you with the details but our offer was accepted pending the Village's ability to borrow the funds from the Municipal Capital Borrowing Board.
So it's not a done deal quite yet.
There may be those who say that this decision was pounded through quickly. They would not be entirely wrong.
Unfortunately, we had a limited time frame to place our offer once the owner expressed the desire to sell.
If we didn't make an offer or if the offer was not accepted the owner could go public and put the property on the open market.
One very important thing about this property is that it is basically smack in the center of New Maryland and right beside the main road.
Mayor Dunn stressed (and I fully agreed) that if the Village owned this the possibilities are numerous.
Mr. Dunn announced that if we successfully purchase the property the future of it would be decided by the residents of the Village, not just Council.
Of course there will be full discussions but the land could possibly be used for recreational purposes, future development or whatever ideas may arise.
The Council and staff will be meeting next month to begin development of a strategic plan for the future of the Village. Items like this are to be discussed.
The Village does not want to become a developer but could consider a sale for this purpose to another party.
Deputy Mayor Judy Wilson-Shee was incorrectly quoted in the Gleaner as saying "the land should be used for recreational facilities."
Directly under this sentence is her quote "If we were to turn this land over to recreation, the possibilities would be endless," she said. "We could create more green spaces and more parks. There is just so much we could do with it."
I point out that she said "if" the land were to be turned over to recreation. She did not say "should" be used for recreational facilities.
Keep in mind that the ink on the purchase offer has only just dried. We certainly haven't developed any plan for the land yet.

When I started on Council I resigned as President of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway.
Looking back, there were times during my presidency that I was somewhat agressive and perhaps slightly antagonistic in my dealings with other stakeholders of the York Street station.
Since much of the Village's business is dealing with the City of Fredericton I felt it best that someone else take over the helm of the FFR.
I am happy to say that Steve Boyko is doing a great job of this. Not that I ever had any doubt.

One thing that I have missed is my many dealings with the local media.
Radio, newspapers and television often called for interviews about the station.
Just yesterday I had a message from a newspaper requesting an interview to discuss the present status of the station. I passed it on to Steve.

You may be wondering where the heck I am going with this? I'll tell you.

After reading the Gleaner article today I have decided that my recent lack of media coverage isn't such a bad thing after all.
In addition, when the day comes that the media does want to talk to me again I'll have to be very careful choosing my words and making sure that what I am saying is clearly understood.

That's my View From Here. For today, anyway.

Tim Scammell

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