By Robert Frank
Mayor Maria Tutino again declined to answer a question on how much Baie d’Urfé has spent on its proposed town hall expansion, during the town’s May 12 council meeting.
“Three times I’ve asked whether this town council or the mayor has spent money for architectural drawings or any [other] money spent on the proposed new town hall,” resident Richard Eastveld asked during question period. “I’ve been told no, no, no, no. Has any money been spent?”
“I don’t know what the obsession is with an item that’s not on the table,” Tutino retorted, without answering the question. “There are so many projects that the town of Baie d’Urfé is working on and some that are coming at a crisis point in time.”
“We will let you know when we are ready to talk about it,” Tutino continued, “because at that point in time we made a commitment [that] we would go to the citizens. It hasn’t come to the discussion table. Ok? That is the answer.”
“So no money has been spent?” Eastveld persisted.
“I don’t know how many ways there are to answer a question,” Tutino responded, without offering any additional information.
Following the meeting, The Suburban obtained 16 invoices, which reveal that the town has paid at least $106,521.18 to cover planning costs for the project.
Baie d’Urfé paid more than 60 per cent of that amount, $64,630.89, to a single firm, Affleck de la Riva, to prepare architectural plans. The remainder went to pay for geological and environmental testing, surveying, office furniture specifications and accompanying city officials to meet suppliers, as well as for seven poster-size architectural drawings.
The Suburban has also obtained the architect’s drawings, which depict a 4,500 sq.ft. extension behind city hall. They specify two 450 sq.ft. executive offices with larger reception areas outside, two smaller managerial offices, a 600 sq.ft. conference room as well as a new kitchen and bathroom. The architect also specified a 900 sq.ft. outdoor wooden deck overlooking Lake St. Louis.
Two elected councilors, Brian Manning and Peter Fletcher, have long opposed spending the $1.5 million that the town has set aside for the project.
Last month, Manning told The Suburban that it would be far more efficient to refurbish Baie d’Urfé’s underused public works building adjacent to Highway 20, to provide the additional office space needed to house the town’s growing roster of civil servants.
According to community activist Gaetano Ionata, who also opposes the expansion, the second floor of the premises has 8,300 sq.ft. available on the second floor that could easily accommodate the town’s needs at a fraction of the cost of renovating Baie d’Urfé town hall.
“The plan is a waste of money,” he told The Suburban.