By Barb McKay
The Kincardine Arts Centre could get a half million dollar makeover next year.
During discussions at last Wednesday’s council meeting, councillors couldn’t agree fast enough to empty the Arts Centre reserve fund to fix up the historic building. The suggestion came after recreation director Karen Kieffer recommended that the municipality move forward with the second phase of interior renovations, which include a new heating and cooling system, vinyl floor repairs, low flow washroom fixtures in the basement, duct insulation and paint touch-ups. The projected cost is $240,000.
Standing in the way of immediate work is the possible discovery of mould on the main floor of the arts centre. Air samples have been taken and results are expected within a week.
Mayor Larry Kraemer said staggering all the necessary the repairs would only harm the building and disrupt tenants. He said the municipality should take the recommendations from last year’s facilities condition report and get them done.
“My feeling is that if we start into HVAC and boilers we’re going tearing into stuff and patching far too much,” he said.
Kraemer said the municipality should take the $462,000 that is left in the Arts Centre reserve fund and get the building into the best shape possible. He suggested that an ad hoc committee be established with tenants of the building to determine how the money should be spent.
“This will be our arts centre for a long time,” he said. “Let’s do the best job we can with the money.”
Other council members were quick to agree.
“That building is a mess inside,” said councillor Ron Coristine. “It’s disgusting. Are we going to do it right?”
“I still stand by, if we are going to support arts and heritage in this municipality, it has to come out of the tax dollar,” said councillor Maureen Couture, adding that the work should be done this winter.
“That boiler has been down there since 1875. It’s done; dead.”
Kraemer asked how much NA Engineering, which conducted the facilities condition study, projected the Arts Centre repairs to cost. Kieffer said the total work, including energy efficient lighting, new flooring, air conditioning and wiring, was expected to come in at $507,000.
“Well, let’s get it done then,” Kraemer said.
Some councillors, however, advised caution. Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said that she would like to see the results of the air sampling to know if there is still mould in the building before going ahead with repairs. She said an overall plan is needed to do the work properly. But Eadie also agreed that the municipality shouldn’t hold back on funding the work.
“We spent $1 million on the outside, are we going to short change the inside by only using what’s in the reserve?”
Councillor Mike Leggett said council needs to be mindful of the municipal budget.
“I can’t stand behind this,” he said. “It has to be a budget item that competes.”
He added that if the reserves are depleted council will have to explain a rate increase to restore the fund in order to operate the building. Leggett said the project would most certainly go over budget.
“I’m just wondering if anyone remembers the Pavilion. It started at $300,000 and ended up over $1 million.”
Faubert agreed that the Arts Centre interior restoration would likely cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million.
Council directed municipal staff to bring a report to the Nov. 6 council meeting with the results of the air sampling, a break down of costs for repairs to the Arts Centre and a recommendation of whether the municipality should put out a request for proposals for the work or hire a general contractor.