Thursday, June 11, 2009

For crying out loud...

I'm trying to get my head focused on a blog when another important topic comes flying along needing my immediate attention.

I hope the Gleaner doesn't mind me posting this here. I'm in it so maybe that will help.
By the way, you recall that when I got on New Maryland Council I stepped down as President of the Fredericton Friends of the Railway?
My reasoning was that if I was to be involved in a working relationship with our neighbouring Council in Fredericton I did not want to be prodding them from the other side as the president of the group.
That's when Steve Boyko stepped up.
I don't know if I have said anything yet but on April 1st Steve send me a message that he and his family are moving to Winnipeg sometime in the near future.
I thought he was joking! Who says something like that on April Fool's Day and is serious??
Steve was serious. He's still here. I don't know for how long but he's leaving.
That makes me very sad but the pressing issue is that the group needs another President.
I'm back.
But guess what? Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside and I have become great friends over the last couple of years. I really like him. I wish every Mayor could be like him. (I'm just saying).
We are both on the exact same side of this.
You'll see in the article that Brad talks tough. And rightly so. He's tired of watching the York Street Station die a slow painful death before the world's eyes as much as I am.
When I read this article I fully agreed with Brad.
Coincidentally, yesterday afternoon Brad Twittered me saying that he liked my comments as well.
Regardless of how it appears, he and I are working together at this to try and finally get something done!
There are very few people that I would stand beside for anything but I am proud to stand beside Brad.

This was in yesterday's Daily Gleaner.

Train station blues | City tired of waiting


Negotiations between J.D. Irving and the NB Liquor Corp. are percolating, but Mayor Brad Woodside says it's time to fish or cut bait.

Woodside, who suggested he'd be just as happy as any Frederictonian to see the shabby York Street property fixed up, said if no deal can be reached, he's ready to head to Ottawa to convince the federal government to allow the structure to be demolished.

The Daily Gleaner has learned that discussions with the liquor corporation - which the newspaper reported on in mid-March - have reached a critical juncture.

NB Liquor officials were coy about the talks last spring and there was no update from the agency late Tuesday.

Train station owner J.D. Irving was equally disinclined to talk publicly about negotiations.

"Once again, we continue to pursue opportunities for a commercial development," said J.D. Irving communications spokesman Geoff Britt. "For confidentiality reasons, we are not able to comment on negotiations."

"It's something we'd be prepared to look at if it fit into our plan," Nora Lacey, communications manager for NB Liquor told the newspaper in mid-March about its interest in the train station.

"It seems to me that right now there are negotiations going on that are very close, and I am hopeful that this matter can be resolved," the mayor said Tuesday.

"Failing that, I am prepared to seek a legal opinion as to what the municipality can do to deal with this, and I am prepared to go to Ottawa and to present the city's case to the bureaucracy there because I don't feel that this city should have to tolerate this anymore.''

Built in 1923, the train station is considered an historic structure and is protected under federal heritage legislation. Buildings with such a designation can be torn down, but only with federal government approval.

Supporters of the train station were dubious that the building's roof, propped up by two-by-fours, would last another winter.

The roof is beginning to collapse. The derelict building has become a local eyesore and even some of the staunchest heritage buffs are ready to throw their hands up in despair.

Peter Pacey, past president of Fredericton Heritage Trust, has said if the station isn't fixed up soon, it should be torn down.

"I'm very upset nothing has gone on and it's just at a standstill,'' said Tim Scammell, New Maryland village councillor and a long-time member of the Friends of Fredericton Railway Inc. lobby group, on Tuesday.

"Unless something is going on behind the scenes and they've kept it quiet, I'm very disappointed. I thought the idea of moving the bus station there was a great idea. I liked the idea of moving a liquor store there.''

The Fredericton chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick has suggested the train station would make a good home for Acadien Coach Lines, which has to relocate from the downtown.

Woodside has voiced his displeasure with the deteriorating state of the train station at various times and in varying degrees, but he said it's time to sort it out once and for all.

"I will not let go until this matter is resolved," the mayor said. "The public is fed up and so is the city. Inaction and the status quo is not acceptable."

The liquor corporation was deluged with opposition when it closed its King Street liquor store in January 2008.

This article was good but guess what appeared today?
I heard it on the radio first and was then contacted by Allison Melanson from Global News to meet for an interview about it and what I thought.
Wow!! If this can happen it would be amazing!!

Here, read it for yourself (Thanks Shawn and Heather):

Legion needs home; station needs TLC


Published Thursday June 11th, 2009

For many Second World War soldiers, the York Street train station was their last glimpse of home before they headed overseas.

Jean-Guy Perreault, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 4 in Fredericton, says the branch is inquiring about taking over the York Street train station to keep the landmark and its past alive. Now, Branch 4 of the Royal Canadian Legion hopes the derelict train station can be given a new lease on life as the local legion's headquarters.

Legion president Jean-Guy Perreault said the branch has had preliminary discussions with J.D. Irving Ltd. about acquiring the train station.

He said they're far from formal negotiations, but the idea is capturing people's attention.

"A lot of our vets boarded there to go to war," he said Wednesday. "They have very strong memories of the station.

"We've talked to a lot of veterans, and a lot of them would like to take the front of it, finish it, put an old train there with 25 feet of rail, and at the back of it we would put the legion. That's our plan right now, and I think we could have quite a good thing."

Perreault said the idea is still in its early stages and there's been no decision as to what the legion might do, or how a deal might be worked out. That will be up to the legion's membership.

Perreault plans to meet with Mayor Brad Woodside on Tuesday to discuss the station's future.

On Tuesday, a frustrated Woodside said if a deal isn't worked out soon, he's ready to press Ottawa to grant approval for the station's demolition.

Under the Heritage Railways Stations Protection Act, the owner of the historic train station isn't obliged to fix it up, but must get a ministerial order from the federal Environment Department to alter the structure or demolish it.

J.D. Irving, which owns the train station and a chunk of the former railway lands surrounding it, has said it would try to salvage the heritage property, but it would need to redevelop it in the context of a larger business venture.

The last cost estimate on repairing the building was up to $2 million.

Several years ago, the possibility of a major call centre tenant had the company contemplating the construction of an office building that would generate the income to include the train station as a component of the development project.

The legion hopes J.D. Irving might part with the building for the symbolic sum of $1 because it made a similar offer to a local non-profit group.

"I think if they would sell it for $1 and we'd go from there," Perreault said.

The owner continue to pursue opportunities.

"We have offered the train station property to a non-profit organization in the past and that option remains a possibility. But we have always maintained that the site needs a commercial development to complete the estimated $2 million restoration costs," said J.D. Irving spokesman Geoff Britt.

The legion is located at the intersection of Queen and Westmorland streets.

Past president Ardith Armstrong said the legion executive began scouting new locations after the 2008 flood.

"We're in a 50-year-old building and its getting pricey to maintain," she said.

The train station caught the legion's attention, though.

"That is a heritage site. The fact that our troops left for service from there would tie in very nicely."

The Daily Gleaner first reported in March that NB Liquor is negotiating for the site.

A spokeswoman for the Crown corporation confirmed this week that it's discussing lease options with J.D. Irving.

The Daily Gleaner has learned that the legion and NB Liquor aren't the only ones in talks with the owners. An individual with knowledge of NB Liquor's negotiations said a third group has also expressed interest in the site.

Woodside said he's received support for his comments calling for either renovation or demolition.

"I think a lot of people are getting tired of the situation."

He said any group that wants to get involved should be ready for the financial burden of refurbishment.

"I hope they have some deep pockets, there's a good chunk of change involved."

It's nice to be back.
My mind needs to get into something like this again to clear out some cobwebs.

This thing isn't getting any better, only worse.

I think I'm up for it again. I hope I am.
With Big Brad along I feel pretty good.

Wish us luck.

Stay well,


Lamespotting said...

Any idea on what the square footage of the train station is? I'd like to try to run some numbers to see how economically feasible it would be for a private venture to restore the station.

Tim Scammell, PTech said...

Lamespotting, I don't even want to guess for fear of being off but I'm pretty sure that the numbers you would get would determine it to not be very economically feasible.
That's the problem.
Emotions have to help determine the cost and value. Do you know what I mean?

Lamespotting said...

Yeah, that's what I figured, but it had to be done:

I guess the hard part will be convincing organizations to pay for the repairs that were caused by JD Irving's negligence.