"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 24 October 2013

A Reversal Of Fortunate Circumstance

Christopher Watts has left a new comment on your post "A Council Divided is A Contradiction In Terms":

"A house divided cannot stand."

Actually the abomination that is Petch House 2.0 proves this statement to be false.

The Petch House couldn't be more divided, yet it stands. Unwittingly ts location and reconstruction was approved before arriving at a purpose. The result is an inside out house, with no plumbing or electrical located in a restrictive location at a cost more than double of what was received by the developer.

I think it is a testament to what this council can and has accomplished to date.
It is laughable to know the Town is not just entertaining the notion of a $10 Million heritage Disneyland but that they are spending $25,000 to do a feasibility study.

Is it feasible for Aurora to construct 3 more Petch Houses. You better believe it.

Thank you for your comment Chris 

Actually your  statement that  Petch House 2 is an abomination  proves nothing of the kind. 

There was nothing unwitting about its location and reconstruction. 

D'you think for one minute I was not fully aware of  political reaction to my change of mind  that the 
structure was an asset ,not a liability.

Fat chance  of that.

Since 2003, before my return to Council,  the town has had $100,000 in the budget for  restoration of the Petch House.  Every year I argued for  its removal. I was not successful. The majority decided otherwise. 

Smart Centre Developers were compelled to  retain the structure as  per the  subdivision agreement. 
legislated  by Town Bylaw.

Do as we say or hell will freeze over before  a permit  is issued for your project to proceed.

The   house was one of  identical twins. The second was a chapel  to serve the needs of the  Petch 

The chapel was purchased by Van Nostrand of Vandorf,  craftsman of renown in restoration  of vintage structures. 

Restored  years since, it occupies pride of place  on a site in cottage country. 

The portfolio presented to Council featured the impressive twin. 

The master craftsman  was  known to a  staff member. His opinion sough, given freely, of the potential of the building.

At the time it had  been but a short time languishing by the  roadside on Leslie Street .

The developer was committed to moving the  building again to a location  of the town's direction. 

How much  else was committed  became lost in the mist of antiquity. 

It matters not. The Town never came up with a site or anyone with a use for the building.

Van Nostrand's advice was ignored.

$800.000   of the budget was expended on an engineer's report at the  direction of Councillor MacEachern who had free rein by approval of the Former.

The engineer's advice indicated a cost of $440.000 to restore the building.

The account of the developer's commitment had grown significantly to  foundation ,installation of water sewers and  wiring and of course driveway construction.

That plan never flew. In excess of $800,000 of the budget was spent with nothing whatsoever to show for it.

When I came back on Council, I  was informed of an anonymous donation of $!8,000 from a  person anxious for the house to be saved.

Speculation was it came from an ancestor of the Petch family.

Several Treasurer's have come and gone. reserve funds have been reviewed and identified. At the preset time no-one in the administration has any knowledge  of the funds or where they were stashed.

At length a meeting between the Town solicitor and the developer  was necessary for some other purpose. I requested the solicitor be directed to obtain a clear commitment from the  developer  on what he was willing to contribute to the  Petch House  project whatever that might be. 

So, there was the balance of the budget  Council had  steadfastly refused to surrender; 

There was $50,000 developer  funds which would be forfeit if  not used for the purpose.

There was a donation made for the specific purpose of saving the house.

I was informed of an available site. 

Van Nostrand's reported the building could no longer be moved in one piece but it was still salvageable. 

An authentic facsimile could be restored located through   the arched  entry to the Arboretum,
off  John West Way  and part of the Town Hall , the Senior's Clubhouse. within the Arboretum and within budget

I had a dilemma .

It gave me pause.

But not for long..

What  was the worst that could happen? 

The  downside was political. 

The upside , a house of significant age would be preserved  with substantial support from donated funds.  

It would be an asset in the town's inventory.

It would be placed on a concrete pad. It could be moved .easily. Or even sold. 

I decided. the risk  was worth taking. 

The old structure was  scraped  clean by  parks department  men in masks and coveralls.

The structure was   left open to wind and sunshine to dry out.

Under supervision  of the craftsman building was taken apart ,piece by piece and it trundled down the road and round the corner to a yard in the  Village  of Vandorf,

During the winter months ,vintage lumber  as sussed for patching and replacement.

In Spring authentic  design windows were manufactured  in London Ontario. . 

Authentic clapboard was salvaged from  a protected area beneath the eaves was used  to mill to exact  dimension to clad the house  completely.

There are no separated rooms or second floor within the house.   No divisions. 

It doesn't pretend to be the original Petch house. But it is a bloody fine facsimile and a tribute to a pioneer family. 

Three Councils wrestled to do the right thing. 

Councillor  Evalina Mac Eachern did most to find a solution.

It didn't happen on her watch but that's how it often is in politics.

The house is there, pretty as a picture.

 It is wired for electricity.

It's  use will determine need for toilet facilities. They are close at hand in the Senior's Club House. 

Nothing  limits its potential but our own imagination. 

I make no apologies for the  final decision made by this Council .

And if $25,000 of taxpayers money is being spent on a  business plan for  real estate deal masquerading as an airy-fairy Dsneyland Heritage Boondoggle on Yonge Street, Council knows nothing-about it. 

I heard the  rumour .I asked. 


Anonymous said...

Good Morning, Vietnam !
( always wanted to say that }
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

It is still a waste of money and time. If that is what this council can hang their hat on as the success, it's very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

It trumps law-suits & chicanes.

Christopher Watts said...

What was reconstructed does not look to me to be an "authentic" facsimile of the Petch House from
the historic photos I have seen, one of which is one posted on my blog here:

It does look like a facsimile of a backyard shed made with materials found at your local Home Depot.

When you mulled over what was the worst that could happen, I agree the option to spend over $400,000
would be exactly that. What happened comes in a close second.

With respect to cost, if $58,000 was received through developer and donation the remainder (over half) was fronted by the town what is the expected R.O.I? And who exactly is clamoring to use it? Or buy it?

"Nothing limits its potential but our own imagination."

Well, that and perhaps physics. Its current location limits its use severely.

As you confirmed there is no plumbing, no heat and no second floor. Clr. Thompson injected practical concerns and staff spoke to building and occupancy code concerns during Tuesday's debate which starts at 166.00 on the Rogers tape: http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=69&gid=119188

Your dilemma aside, I think council's decision to proceed with reconstructing the Petch House without first arriving upon its use goes against sound planning principles and I hope that it is not repeated in the future.

As for the fanciful Heritage DisneyLand concept, my comment was the $25,000 council has agreed to
spend on a "feasibility study" not a "business plan".

Anonymous said...

Really? they have you drinking the KoolAid then.

Anonymous said...

Nope. And I am quite aware of the penchant of 3 councillors to play the legal card. Currently they are skating very near the edges with the owner of that property with the the 3 trees, and we narrowly escaped a mess over the pole in King.

Anonymous said...

So the relocation and restoration of a clapboard building that was condemned is the highlight of the successes of this council 3/4 of the way through their mandate?

Holy s**t. The bar is low.

Anonymous said...

"And I am quite aware of the penchant of 3 councillors to play the legal card."

You do remember that our host is an active litigant, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Hog-wash. There hasn't been any "activity:" on that matter for years as far as I know.
Being outside closed session, the only new item I am aware with substance seems to be from the Former.

Anonymous said...

Hogwash, 14:55? To my knowledge, Cllr Buck hasn't dropped her lawsuit. Isn't that correct, Cllr Buck?