"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Thursday 26 April 2012

Question And Answer

Tim the Enchanter has left a new comment on your post "A Step Forward":

Also agree that a small positive step was made at council on Tuesday.
A little clarification please.
What exactly are the two buildings in question?
There appears to be a 1960's vintage library building at 56 Victoria - next to the Church St School but I can't imagine that would hold any historical value or am I looking in the wrong place?

The first building is the former three bay firehall. It  became a parks yard  in the late seventies when a new firehall was built on a site intended for new prestige  industry..

Then  $250,000 was spent on it to create  a senior's centre in the eighties.  It has   been used for the last six or seven years  as a facility for severely disabled children for whom there is no place in the regular school system.

The group had lost its space  elsewhere and were so desperate to find a new home, they gladly accepted  a monthly lease until the decision would be made to demolish the building.

Under it's frontispiece it is still a cinder block structure with a tarred roof sitting on a cement pad. The building  owes the town nothing. It could vanish  without a trace in a day.

The old library is a different kettle of fish. It's not so old. A third of it was  built in 1963  as the town;s centennial project.It wasn't the town's first library.

I believe that was on the second floor of  a long -gone building  on the corner of Yonge and Mosely. It  was also the  town hall a firehall  and a jail cell and I think, a market.

When we arrived in Aurora the library was in  Victoria Hall a dank and dreary spot. Shelves lined the  walls but the books were also on  long trestle tables. My children did not like the place. It was spooky.

The new library was  attractive, and much appreciated .

Librarian Marjorie Anderson was extremely fondly  regarded. She kept particular books  she didn't think kids should have access to,  under  the counter. Adults had to ask for them. They knew they were there.  The collection was kept current.

In the seventies, The library board decided to add twice as much space to the original.  The town  authorised $250,000 for an addition.  That should have trimmed the size of the addition.

 The board had already retained an architect without approval of funds for an addition. It was  decided on  advice from  the architect, to build the shell of the addition until more funds would be available.

The  comparison was made to  how well we managed in Victoria Hall.

The shell was built, with neither heating nor lighting. It could not be used.

The town stood firm. We could not afford  more funds.The board would have to fund-raise.

The new librarian was not amused. But needs must.

A Friends of the Library Association was formed and my name was Mayor Mud

Former Councillor Betty Pederson and the late Dick Illingworth became co-chairs of a fund raising campaign and the goal was successfully achieved.

The front entrance of the addition was at the back of the building
because of the  Official Plan designation of the  location as a Civic Square. 

The library would face Yonge Street and have pride of place in the square.

The Browning house on Yonge Street came on the market. The town  bought it  with the long-term goal in mind.

Time passed, Council membership changed.. Dreams get  lost. The new library was built on the corner of Yonge and Church. The town now owns ,I would say, seventy-five per cent of the block.

The seniors were lobbying Council to let them have the old  library.

 The old firehall was severely limited in its scope for programs. The seniors never ever thought of asking the town to build something new to suit their needs.

Yhey were of a generation who well knew the connection between taxes and amenities. Making do for them is a way of life.

 The idea of having all that space in the old  library was exciting..

So the decision to demolish the building was not made when it should have been. 

We surprised  the seniors. . We  built them a new facility. On the site of the town hall. Last night the parking lot was full of cars
of people attending a Water for Tomorrow.presentation.

The large all purpose room in thecentre lends itself well to other gatherings when not used by  the seniors.

Some  thought  a teen centre should have been built instead. It was in former Mayor  Jones last term.

So now we have two.buildings without a purpose, sitting on under-utilised land,  several times more valuable than the structures  taking up space.

A third part of one was the library built in 1963 to mark the town's centennial. It has happy ,positive memories .Built in the last term  of Former and late Mayor Keith Nisbett. .

The late Councillor Jean Moffat was chair of the library committee.

At the 1963  Inaugural, the  town's first Chain of Office was presented , It was  fashioned by  an award winning designer  named Rod Smythe.

At the same gathering , Councillor Moffatt told the audience she had pushed for a basement in the new library but couldn't get support from Council.

So that part of  the building , a third of the old library, sits on a concrete slab. Much like the  former three bay fire hall.

It was a very pretty little building. An old fire hall bell sat in a little courtyard designed for the purpose.

The new facility was  much appreciated. A new building   is always a happy event . Like a new baby.

But it is not yet  historical.

 Aurora has a progressive history.

It  was  never  part of Aurora's  culture to steep themselves  in the past. There was little to speak of. We are a young country. A young town.  Our past and our present is one and the same.

Our culture is to look forward without forgetting the past.

There is of course.respect for the past.  We have a  principle of building on our past. There have  been  glitches in the drive  forward.

We are  roaring out of one now.

The time is right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have to remember when Councillor Wendy is lecturing about Aurora history that she wanted the library budget CUT. Not sure if she reads or even has a library card as she cannot master the Procedural Code which Pirri has no problem understanding. Has she ever travelled on summer breaks or are we talking completely insular with an old sociology degree?

I will understand if you decide this is too up-front but the woman really confuses me.