LETTER: Reader prefers Civic Centre location

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Editor: I’m concerned regarding the possibility of moving the Civic Centre to the former Sears building. I’ve written letters to council members regarding the reasons for spending extra tax dollars to buy and renovate the building. I’ve talked to a few council members, and the mayor responded to my concerns.

In the process of making this decision, there seems to be many unknowns as to what the actual cost or revenue might be.

One cost which is in the figure of the $37 million that is stated as the cost to bring the present building up to where it would meet the needs of C-K for the future is moving the council chambers to ground floor. The reason for this is stated to be fully accessible. I’m told there is only one elevator to the second floor and the concern is that if it broke down the second floor would not be accessible.

I wonder if putting in a second elevator has been looked into.

If council chambers do not meet code for accessibility, then many of the hospitals in our area don’t either. I can’t think of one hospital that you don’t require an elevator to access many of its services.

My other thought would be that some of the renovation that is required could be spread over a number of years. If the purchase of the Sears building goes ahead, all expenses are going to be incurred in the next couple of years.

The calculation that is being used has the value of selling the present Civic Centre building. I’m wondering how well it will sell if it needs so many repairs and it would probably need extensive renovations to be put to another use such as housing, which I was told there is interest in it for that purpose.

(Editor’s note: The owners of the Downtown Chatham Centre in which the former Sears building is located have stated that if a buyer is not found at a suitable price, they would buy the Civic Centre.)

How accurate is the estimate to renovate the Sears building? Most construction projects seem to cost far more than first proposed.

Approximately 15-20 years ago the Capitol Theatre project cost close to double what was proposed in the beginning. News articles in 2007 suggest a cost of $14 million, which I think was far more than originally planned. In 2009, an article stated that the project will come in at close to $20 million.

I know we will be told that this is different, but you are working on a building that is over 40 years old in the Sears building. The Capitol Theatre was only 60 some years old when the project started

Phil Richards

Dresden

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