Town council settling in by continuing projects, promoting growth
Since residents in the Town of Harbour Grace ousted all but one member of their former council on Sept. 24, the new elected representatives have spent hours going over fresh and innovative ideas for the town.
© Photo by Melissa Jenkins
Harbour Grace Mayor Terry Barnes
Mayor Terry Barnes - the only returnee from the previous council, having defeated incumbent mayor Don Coombs for the top post - told The Compass during a sit-down meeting Nov. 21 that some council meetings have lasted up to four hours.
Barnes discussed some of the changes and developments currently taking place in the town of some 3,200.
Forward returns, temporarily
Since the retiring of town manager Lester Forward Nov. 1, town officials decided his expertise were necessary to complete several administrative tasks, including the 2014 operating budget, pricing capital works and preparing the year-end financial statements for the town's accountant.
Because his retirement was already official, town council and Forward discussed an alternative and unique payment instead of placing him back on the payroll.
"In lieu of his services, we have signed a contract with (Lester) from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15," Barnes explained. "When everything is completed for municipal affairs and everything is approved, instead of paying a salary, he has agreed to take the town Jeep as payment."
Barnes then said the worth of the vehicle would be on par with what the pay would have been - $19,000.
"We had plans to sell the vehicle after Lester retired anyway," he added.
The vehicle was originally purchased for Forward to use during his employment at the town office. The new town manager - which is currently being recruited - will not have a vehicle in their contract.
Sean O'Brien, who works in the office at town hall, has been taking care of other town manager duties until a new one is hired.
On Wednesday, Nov. 20, it was announced a new stadium manager - Jennifer (Bourne) Janes - had been hired. But there is more stadium news as finalization of design and budget creeps closer.
The current "proposed site" for the new facility is on the east side of Jamie's Way, beside Veterans Memorial Highway. The site has to contain certain specifications before beginning construction.
One of those specifications is ensuring the land chosen can withstand the weight of such a large structure. The site is adjacent to a marsh.
Barnes confirmed test holes will be dug in the next few weeks. If the ground is unstable, the town will have to go to site option B - although the location has not been publicly disclosed.
Town officials would like to see the Jamie's Way location succeed because the area has "potential" for more development.
Barnes would like more businesses attracted to the area, and believes it would happen if the future stadium is built at the preferred site.
The question has been brought to the mayor's attention several times in recent months about if the funding has been secured for the town's 20 per cent split of the $21 million.
"The funding has been approved through CIBC," Barnes said. "After looking at our books, they were prepared to put up the $3.8 million. I can't see it getting derailed."
Growth and promotion
Meanwhile, a new economic development board is being proposed so the town can promote itself for economic and tourism purposes.
Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises - formerly Dawe's Welding - is an example of how things may be moving. The company is discussing expansion options with the town.
Although details have been scarce, The Compass has learned the company is looking to acquire another piece of land to bring in more business.
The town is also distributing a new quarterly newsletter to keep residents abreast of the affairs of council, with the next issue to be distributed in January.