The issue of public perception surrounding the town’s interest in purchasing Ridley Offices from its current owner came up towards the end of Wednesday’s council meeting when Coun. Gordon Stone brought it up. Mayor Terry Barnes was quick to make his own points on the matter.
“To make it clear right now, that’s not the town’s intentions,” Barnes said Wednesday. “The town’s intentions is to restore the building … It’s not my intentions or the town’s intentions to tear it down. I’m sure this council is the same as I am. We’ve never, ever discussed for that building there to be torn down.”
At council’s Jan. 6 meeting, a motion was approved to make an offer to purchase Ridley Offices, a registered heritage structure that’s almost 180 years old.
Current owner Rhonda Parsons, who purchased the property in 2005, previously told The Compass the town has made multiple offers to purchase the property. When contacted by a reporter last month about the town’s latest offer, Parsons indicated she remains uninterested in selling.
Comments made at Wednesday’s meeting came in response to online comments suggesting the town would tear down the building if it purchased it.
“We’ve all talked about it at length, the importance of Ridley Offices and how important it is to our community, the heritage of our community,” Stone said. “We’ve got our heritage and redevelopment committee working hard to protect all our heritage … We know what our intentions are.”
The town has stated Ridley Offices is in an industrial zone and therefore should only be used commercially, though Parsons has maintained it’s a residential property as recognized by the Municipal Assessment Agency. Parsons has previously told The Compass she worries her property will eventually be expropriated.
Ridley Offices originally served as the business premises for local fish merchant Thomas Ridley. The property’s ownership has changed many times since it was first sold in 1873. The Ridley family’s residential property on Water Street, Ridley Hall, was extensively damaged by fire in 2003.