April 17, 2011

Sackville Town Council "stays out of Memorial Library fight"

 In case the issue were not already settled, Sackville Town Council has decided not to object in any way to Mount Allison University's plan to demolish and replace the old Memorial Library with a Fine and Performing Arts Centre

 Do some people think it's an unwise decision? Yes. 

Are the people making the decision going to change their mind? Clearly not. 

Is it best for the University in the long run? I'd have to think so. Mount Allison needs a new facility if it wants to continue attracting the best students from across the country... Period. 

Does replacing the old student centre disrespect Mount Allison's WWI war dead? No. The memorial plaques are already in the most frequented location on campus. Many students don't even realize it used to be a Memorial Library...as it hasn't been for the last forty years.

Is there an alternative that is feasible financially? Not that anybody has presented.

I'm all for public debate but it seems like a closed issue. There is no massive alumni backlash, there is almost no visible reaction from students, and there is really no other viable financially option that has been presented by anybody opposing the decision.

From Katie Tower at the Sackville Tribute-Post:

Council stays out of Memorial Library fight

Sackville town council has decided to stay out of the debate over whether the Memorial Library on the Mount Allison campus should be torn down.
Sackville town council has decided to stay out of the debate over whether the Memorial Library on the Mount Allison campus should be torn down.

Sackville town council is refusing to interfere in Mount Allison University’s decision to tear down the Memorial Library, a building many alumni are now fighting to save.
Mayor Pat Estabrooks said council has taken into account the concerns raised by a number of area residents over the past few months but has decided not to get involved in the dispute, despite being urged otherwise.
“While saddened by the prospect that this unique structure will be removed from our community’s streetscape, the town of Sackville has no legislative powers to intervene on this matter,” she said during council’s monthly meeting Monday night.
Estabrooks said council doesn’t want to risk damaging the good relations that exist between ‘town and gown’ by questioning the university’s management.
“As elected representatives of the municipality, we have to trust that the Mount Allison leadership has thoroughly examined all possibilities regarding the future of the Memorial Library,” she said. “To intervene on this matter, either through correspondence to the university or through a public statement, would call into question that trust. It is council’s position that such an intervention will not benefit the community of Sackville.”
The mayor pointed out that the buildings and infrastructure located on the campus of Mount Allison are the responsibility of the university.
“Decisions pertaining to usage, maintenance, restoration and replacement are made by the university’s governing bodies and carried out by its administration.”
Estabrooks insisted that council recognizes the importance of protecting the community’s “rich built heritage,” even recently adopting a heritage conservation bylaw, which included the appointment of a heritage board to oversee and administer the legislation.
She said several Mount Allison properties are included in the conservation areas established in the bylaw, including Colville House, Anchorage and Black House.
“While the Memorial Library is outside these conservation areas, we are confident that Mount Allison will develop the site in a way that will not compromise the beauty of this vital entry point to its campus.”
The 84-year-old brick building at the campus entrance was designed by renowned architect Andrew Randall Cobb and built in 1927 as a tribute to students who were killed during the First World War.
Mount Allison’s administration announced last fall it planned to tear down the Memorial Library building to make way for a new fine and performing arts centre.
The university originally looked into the possibility of renovating the existing building to convert it into a modern arts centre, but determined the price tag to save it was simply too high.
With a number of significant structural and electrical issues that would be too costly to remedy, adding another $5 million to the cost of the project, it was decided that the university would instead move forward with the design of a new facility, while incorporating and preserving elements of the existing building.

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