Caroline residents pressure council to move on project
Caroline stands to lose a $1-million grant because of village council’s delays in approving a new community centre, say concerned residents who are holding a public meeting in protest.
Kirsten Collison worries about village council’s “procrastination” on a proposed building that would expand the Kurt Browning Complex.
It would allow new space for a playschool, dance and yoga studios, the chamber of commerce, a medical clinic and fitness centre.
The local teacher said it’s been three years since discussions on the project began. Now the decision is down to the wire, since the structure would have to be completed by March 2014 under the terms of a matching grant from the provincial government and Clearwater County. Each gave $500,000 towards the project.
With just a year left for construction, no approval has yet been granted by village council, said Collison, who also sits on the board of the Caroline Dance West, a growing school that wants larger studio space in the new community centre.
“By not making a decision, a decision will be made for them out of hand,” she added.
In a public letter to the Advocate, Collison urges village council to see the big picture, saying this is “an opportunity to grow . . to build something ... a direction must be decided and a vision shared.”
Caroline resident Wanda Arseneau, president of Caroline Dance West, shares Collison’s concerns.
She writes that she is “appalled” at council’s indecision, as well as indications the project might get voted down due to cost and usage concerns.
The new community centre is projected to cost $1.3 million.
While there’s $944,000 left of grant money after the expense of preliminary planning, Collison believes corporations and local citizens can pull together to raise the rest.
But she admitted this would not resolve all concerns, since some councillors are questioning the need for the building.
A public forum has been planned for Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Caroline School gym. Collison is hoping to get other local residents talking about “why our village is willing to allow close to $1 million to slip away.”
Therese Kleeburger, chief administrative officer for the Village of Caroline, said more information is needed before council can make a decision on the project.
Meetings are still happening between the local Ag Society, a proponent of the project, and village council to look at various design and cost options for the centre.
“They will be gathering more information regarding the project that will have to be considered in order to make an informed decision,” said Kleeburger, who hopes for a resolution by the end of the month.