| Jun 26, 2008

Feature Article - June 26, 2008

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Feature Article - June 26, 2008 South Frontenac CouncilBy Jeff Green

New library for Sydenham clears one hurdle

In a library capacity study prepared by the Kingston Frontenac Public Library in 2004, one of the priorities identified was an expansion of the Sydenham library from 1,800 to 5-6,000 square feet.

The library board has little control over decisions about new facilities in Frontenac County however, because while the board runs the library operations in Kingston and Frontenac County, facilities are entirely paid for by the local municipalities where the branches are located, and the municipalities can upgrade facilities or not at their own discretion.

Late last year, South Frontenac CAO Gord Burns broached the idea to council that it would be preferable if all township administrative staff were located in one building. Currently some staff are housed at the Keeley Road garage and the rest at the township office, which shares the building with the library.

If, Burns said, the library space was turned into administrative space and a new library built, as the library board would like, it would solve two problems.

Council agreed, and an architect, Ray Zabac was hired to look at potential ways of using the existing office space and adjacent lands to make a larger office and library complex.

On Ray Zabac’s recommendation, the township purchased the building west of the current office, and at a Committeee of the Whole meeting on June 25 this week, Ray Zabac presented several possible configurations of library and office space for council’s consideration as several library board members and KFPL CEO Deborah Defoe looked on from the audience.

Zabac provided several options, but there were two main categories: proposals to build onto the existing complex and maintain a multi-use building, and proposals to incorporate the existing library space into office space and build a stand-alone library on the property.

Ray Zabac said that building a stand-alone 6,000 square foot library “has lots of advantages which far outweigh the disadvantages”.

Gord Burns pointed out that the township has a “minimal amount of money in our library reserve fund. The original thought was that we were going to put an extension on the building and we do have over $1 million in our renovation fund.”

Councilor Ron Vandewal said, “It will cost $2 million, probably $2 million to build a library.”

Councilor Larry York said, “A new building is cheaper than tying buildings together. It makes a lot more sense to me to do it that way.”

“Are we planning on proceeding with this in our term?” asked Councilor Del Stowe.

“My perception is that we are going to go forward in a timely fashion,” said Mayor Gary Davison.

“If we move forward are we going to have to borrow?” asked Stowe.

“We’ll have to borrow from ourselves,” said Gord Burns.

It was proposed that an advisory committee be struck to narrow down the options and make a proposal to council within a six month time frame.

An advisory committee, consisting of four members of council, one from each district, and three members of the public, along with senior township and library staff as non-voting members, will be struck within the next few weeks. The township will advertise for public participation.

While some on council would like to see a building project proceed within the next year or two, at least one councilor would like to see the issue brought before the electorate in the 2010 municipal election.

“I thought the consensus was we would be putting the breaks on building during this term,” said Councilor John Filion.

“The advisory committee is not going to run forward; it will take some time, then council will have a decision to make. Arguably it might come in the last year and council might decide to leave it for an election issue,” said Councilor Alan Mcphail.

How long did it take to deal with Calvin Park?” asked Gord Burns, referring to the leaky-roofed library branch in Kingston that is now being rebuilt after many years of debate at Kingston City Council.

Fire agreement with Rideau Lakes maintained

In a 5-4 vote, South Frontenac Council decided not to go ahead with a controversial plan to put an end to an agreement with the Township of Rideau Lakes to provide fire service for residents of Bedford District who live near Westport.

The two Bedford District representatives to council both argued that the Burridge Fire Department, which was to take the place of the Rideau Lakes Department, is short staffed currently and cannot provide the same level of service.

Mayor Gary Davison cast the deciding vote, and he apologized to Fire Chief Rick Cheseborough, who recommended ending the agreement, even as he was voting.

Cheseborough did not speak during the debate that preceded the vote, but afterwards he said he agreed with the decision that council had taken.

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