Alberton Mayor Michael Murphy made a valid point in his recent letters to the provincial government last month asking that the old Maplewood Manor property be torn down.
The old manor, after all, is smack dab in front of the replacement manor. It impedes the view of the one that opened less than two years ago.
More precisely, the provincial government built the new manor in back of the old one.
It is not unusual for individuals to buy a mini-home and then, as money becomes available, build a new home behind it. Then the old home either gets hauled away to become a cottage or someone else’s starter home, or it gets town down.
What’s different here, though, is one can’t put a 40,000 square foot manor on skids and drag it out of town.
So the province sought expressions of interest, first from non-profit groups and finally from the general public. It was all part of the process, or the charade. Government kept the charade going for two winters, keeping heat on in the building.
Then, in May, when the process had nearly run its official course, a developer made an offer to buy the building. His offer wasn’t for a lot of money, but was to include renovations and it would put the building to use. According to the developer, there was a clause in the agreement that would have seen the property revert back to government if not developed in a timely fashion.
It would seem government suddenly needed some opposition to the development, and along came Mayor Murphy who fit the bill. Murphy sent off letters seeking the manor’s demolition. But he erred when he didn’t involve his council.
So, when councillor Natasha Dunn succeeded in pushing through a motion last week unanimously supporting development of the manor property, drastic action was needed to get demolition back on track.
It came in the form of a special meeting on Tuesday, complete with scripted questions about the building. Yes, the heating system might need some work to get it running again and there is some work needed on the building, but the developer already knew all of this.
The previous week’s motion to redevelop the building was rescinded and a new motion presented calling on government to demolish the building – as per the mayor’s earlier written request. Mayor Murphy cast the deciding vote in favour of the motion.
Then, the province doesn’t even wait for the arrival of the official request from the town before denying the purchase offer.
A charade, it seems, from the get-go.