Town receives theatre petition

Darrell Cole
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Tantramar supporters ask for plebiscite on town hall move

AMHERST – Amherst is going to consider a petition from supporters of the Tantramar Theatre asking for a plebiscite on the town’s move to the Dominion Public Building.

The town formally received the petition, signed by 526 residents, during its May session Monday night.

“We just received the petition and the way the bylaw reads is that we will now review that and determine what the next steps are,” Mayor Robert Small said following the council session. “We just awarded tenders for that building, but we take things very seriously. We have received it and will consider it in due course.”

The theatre’s artistic director, Bette Douglas, and several supporters were in attendance at the council meeting and left after council received the petition.

“They did exactly what I expected them to do,” Douglas said later. “We are going to continue to gather signatures in hopes they realize that there are a lot more people than they think opposed to their plan.”

Theatre supporters have maintained the town should have asked the public before deciding to evict the theatre and move its offices from the Confederation Memorial Building.

Council announced last year plans to move the town’s offices to the former post office building that has housed the theatre for more than a decade. The theatre’s lease at the building expires on Thursday.

The town plans to be in the building in time for its September council session.

Council took another step toward moving last night when it awarded a $302,900 tender to JC Mechanical to upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the historic downtown building.

The town received three bids on the project, but two of them were rejected because they didn’t comply in that they were only for air conditioning and ventilation.

Funding for the project is coming from the 2012-13 capital budget.

The town’s director of public works, Ben Pitman, said the successful bidder has been through the building on a couple of occasions and has experience working with older buildings, including Truro’s renovated town hall.

He said there are no structural issues with the building that need to be addressed and the architect is confident the project can be done on budget.

Small said the town had budgeted $350,000 from this year’s budget for the upgrade. He still believes the project can be done for around $750,000 – including $250,000 that was in last year’s budget.

“I’m confident we will be under that number and not the millions that have been reported,” the mayor said.

Organizations: Tantramar Theatre

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Recent comments

  • Joe Shmoe
    June 19, 2012 - 14:51

    I expect to see Douglas chaining herself to the pillars in the front of Dominion Public any day now.

  • Jack Frost
    May 30, 2012 - 07:48

    Ms Douglas thinks the world revolves around her and her theater. Well it doesn't, and it never did. Get packing, you've been subsidized long enough.

  • Do like Sackville did
    May 29, 2012 - 20:40

    Why not do like Sackville just did---Heck they spent more on an elevator for their new 13 million dollar concrete and glass facilities than we will spend on the whole completed building. Thanks for being so thrifty Town Council.

  • Rob
    May 29, 2012 - 13:51

    Enough already. This theater does itself no favours by maintaining this sense of entitlement. Your lease is up. The landlord decided not to extend it. Be a good tenent and vacate the premesis in a timely manner and find a new home. Constantly standing on your soapbox screaming *me me me* is merely theatrical smoke that serves only to belittle and embarrass you. The fat lady has sung.

  • citizen
    May 29, 2012 - 12:14

    I would rather see the town of Amherst survive, because we all know it's only starting to pick back up. I love theatre, but I love the town more and would rather see it grow than a theatre company. To all of those opposed, get over it and move on to new things. After all, life is all about improving anyway.

  • Greg
    May 29, 2012 - 10:54

    Hold on! Are you guys really saying to let it go just because you don't think council will listen to you ... THAT'S THE PROBLEM! If you want council to work for you, you have to speak out. This is not a dig at either side. You can't expect them to know what you want them to do unless you tell them. You can't expect them to know when they are going in the wrong direction unless you tell them. A plebscite is a good idea. It will settle the issue once and for all for both sides. Whatever the people of the town decide ... that should be the final answer.

    • John
      May 30, 2012 - 07:50

      No I think people are saying they are tired of hearing about the poor Tantramar Theatre.

  • mike
    May 29, 2012 - 08:10

    I too love the Theatre but.........time to move on. Town Council is going to do what they want and they have made their decision. Time , Betty and company, to start focusing on finding a new place. The town needs the theatre so let's get looking for a new spot !!!!!!!

  • Jack On The Rocks
    May 29, 2012 - 08:06

    Come on Bette,give it up already...Does the town ask before they raise taxes???NO,why should they ask the citizens about a lease agreement that is about to expire????Move on to bigger and better things....let this dog sleep...

  • Amherst Res
    May 29, 2012 - 07:54

    It's unfortunate that the theatre is being evicted. What is more unfortunate is that the mayor of our town refuses to listen to the voice of the people. I'm sure many residents didn't get a chance to sign the petition - I know I didn't. It is absolutely absurd to waste the tax payer's money when town hall is already in a suitable building. Well Mr. Small, all the citizens eyes are on you and when you move forward with your plan, you are ensuring this will be the last time our citizens vote for you.

    • Jack on the Rocks
      May 29, 2012 - 09:03

      The theater is NOT be evicted....their LEASE EXPIRED!!!!

    • Reason
      May 29, 2012 - 09:24

      At this point there is only 3 possibilities. Town hall moves and spends money repairing and maintaining the building, Tantramar Theatre stays and the town spends money repairing and maintaining the building and replacing/upgrading their current building or the Dominion building is demolished. Personally, I think its a little unfair to subsidize one non-profit organization to this extent. I believe most citizens of Amherst would not be interested in the eventual demolition of the building. Only leaves one real option.

  • Enough
    May 29, 2012 - 07:33

    Can we please move on. Public subsidy is not an answer.

  • John
    May 28, 2012 - 20:37

    Personally I don't see what all the outcry is about and think that it is an excellent location for the town hall offices. The poor people from Tantramar theatre should just except the fact and move on to hopefully bigger and better things elsewhere.