Working group seeks prospective members for Picton Town Hall board
It’s time for people to step up and help in order to make the creative vision for Picton’s historic town hall become a reality, and that help is needed now.
That was the core message of members of the Save Picton Town Hall Working Group’s public meeting held at the facility on Sunday, April 14.
A motion recommending council selects the submission from the Save Picton Town Hall Community Working Group also known as ‘ A Hall for All’ as the preferred proposal received in response to the Municipality’s Request for Expressions of Interest will be brought forth at the Committee of the Whole meeting at Shire Hall on Thursday.
Late last summer, Council had chosen to list the former Town of Picton fire hall and municipally owned meeting space be listed for potential sale through a request for proposal process while also inviting alternative proposals for use for the property and allowed six months from the issuance of the RFP for submissions to be brought forward.
In total, a pair of proposals were received through the process and staff is recommending that Council select the proposal submitted by the Save Picton Town Hall Working Group (A Hall for All) as the preferred submission for the use of the property at 2 Ross Street.
According to a report accompanying staff’s recommended motion, the motion calls for staff to be directed to work with the Save Picton Town Hall Working Group on the establishment of a Board of Management to oversee the operations of the property as per the proposal and subject to the conditions outlined in the recommendations of the report.
Council supported citizens in their bid to keep the Picton Town Hall as a community asset during Tuesday’s council meeting which spilled over into the wee hours of the morning.
Following more than five hours of deputations, comments from the audience and discussion, Mayor Steve Ferguson implored his council to move forward to honour the community’s volunteers and not “move the goal posts”.
Last month, a committee of council voted to open a process to sell the building or else find alternative proposals for its use that would give council an idea of the public’s interest. That decision saw a ratifying vote in a council meeting last night, after press time. A report about that meeting can be found online at wellingtontimes.ca.
The proposal prompted concerns among user groups and residents. Picton councillor Lenny Epstein held a town hall meeting at the town hall about its future on Thursday evening. About 80 people attended, and about a third of those were not residents of the town of Picton. They represented a variety of regular user groups of the hall, those with interest in improved usage of the hall and those who feel the building is an integral part of the community.
The Picton Town Hall is a bit of a conundrum. Nuzzled in on Ross Street, just behind Picton Main Street and directly in the centre of the town’s core, the heritage building is a valuable asset for the County.
The building itself has two purposes. The upper level is a community gathering space. Accessible by both stairs and elevator, the large room includes an attached kitchen and washrooms, tables and chairs, and is ideal for all sorts of community activities, from bridge club afternoons to community meals, from performances to actual town halls.
One of the latter will take place on Thursday, July 20 at 7 p.m. Picton councillor Lenny Epstein has invited the public to a town hall at the town hall to discuss the future of the town hall. Five days after that, council will decide whether to accept proposals from private businesses, not-for-profit organizations and the public about what to do with the hall.
Some councillors may want to sell, but the hall won’t fill the hole.
Emotions were high last Tuesday evening as users of the Picton town hall flooded Shire Hall’s council chambers, spilling out into an adjacent boardroom where the meeting was being streamed live.
Most were out to support a group dubbed Save the Picton Town Hall, a collection of users and residents who would like to find a solution to keep the building in public hands. They were there to speak before council discussed a request for proposals that will determine the future of the municipal property.
The future of Picton Town Hall took another step forward as Save Picton Town Hall Working Group (SPTH) attracted a full house at Saturday’s public meeting to share plans and receive feedback.
Dubbed ‘A Hall for All’ by the SPTH working group, its hope is for the structure at 2 Ross St., Picton is to remain in public hands for community use.
SPTH working group member Bev Campbell introduced core SPTH members Duncan Moore, Sarah Moran, Leslie Smail-Persaud and Lynne Rochon. She also noted thanks to members not present, including Margaret Watson, Christine Renaud and Gilles Miramontes. She also thanked councillor Lenny Epstein who first hosted a community meeting last summer.
The County’s Community Development Department is inviting proposals for ongoing use and operation of the current Picton Town Hall and former Picton Fire Hall.
Proposals are open for the downtown Picton property’s use, operation and ownership. The County’s application document states the overall value of the proposal will be considered in the context of the economic, cultural, social and environmental benefits to the community.
Council amended its Committee of the Whole motion Tuesday night to include a six-month timeline to receive request for proposal purchase offers and alternative proposals for the old Picton fire hall and town hall.
Community Development Director Neil Carbone told council the intention of the initial recommendation was to solicit a lot of options and gage opportunities. Once the Request for Proposals is made – possibly over the next few months – the six month timeline for offers and proposals would begin.
A special Committee of the Whole Meeting Tuesday, Sept. 19 will hear concerns about listing the former Picton Town Hall/Fire Hall for sale, and alternatives for its use.
The 2 Ross St., building is to be examined by council as part of an inventory of its vacant or unused municipal properties.
A committee of the whole report from June was deferred by council to Tuesday’s special meeting. Several public meetings have been held by citizens wanting to save the hall for public use.