Alma agreement for Optimist Hall may be approved next week

Les Skerritt wanted to know what is holding up an agreement between the township and the Optimist Club of Alma for a new community hall in Wallace Cumming Park.

“Let’s put all the cards on the table and deal with the issues,” said Skerritt, who represented the Optimists at a Mapleton council meeting last week. He said the idea for a new hall is now a couple of years old and the club thought it had a done deal two months ago.

In early March, Mayor John Green endorsed an agreement with the Optimist Club for a new hall and said he expected the agreement to be passed later that month.

But since then, a couple of minor changes have been made to the agreement, and Skerritt said the club now wants to move forward. “We are committed to this project if you are,” he told council, noting the club voted 97.5% in favour of the agreement.

It appears the main issue is the ten-year agreement term.

“I’m very skeptical that in ten years … we’re going to be meeting in someone’s basement,” Skerritt said, noting if there is a problem it will likely surface long before ten years’ time.

Skerritt also told council the club does not see the matter as a ten-year agreement, but one that will last in perpetuity.

Green said the township would be willing to make the initial agreement for 20 years, with ten-year renewals thereafter.

The rest of council was agreeable to that approach.

“We’re trying to increase your comfort level,” Green told Skerritt.

However, the mayor did say the township is not comfortable with a stipulation that states there will be an “automatic re­newal” at the end of the  agreement term.

The township would like to remove the term “automatic,” but not the intent to renew the agreement after discussions about maintenance, manage-ment, renovations, and the reserve account, Green said.

“I think we can live with that,” Skerritt replied.

Clerk Patty Sinnamon said staff will change the wording to reflect the mayor’s concerns and send a revised agreement to the Optimists for review within a few days.

The township could then pass the agreement at its meeting on May 27, she added. Skerritt agreed.

Green told the club, “I don’t want to hold this up any longer.”