MOREWOOD — This hamlet showcased its revamped community centre last week, a facility that recently benefited from about $200,000 in improvements that only cost taxpayers about half that amount.
North Dundas Township council and staff helped celebrate the Aug. 31 occasion, with politicians handling barbecue grill duties and administrators washing up in the kitchen.
“It reminds me of the good old days how this project was done,” said Mayor Duncan in official remarks at the podium. “Council provided the funds but we had a dedicated group of volunteers that took ownership of the hall, worked with different tradespeople, the [Morewood] fire department. A wide variety of people were involved and donated a lot to really make this project affordable for the next generation. Our thanks to the volunteers who helped make it happen.”
“It’s fantastic to see this many people in the hall,” Councillor Al Armstrong said to the audience of 140 barbecue steak diners. Armstrong acknowledged that council had a “difficult time” deciding the fate of the centre, earlier this year, when serious roof leaks posed a sudden budgetary challenge.
Council has been looking at the township’s fleet of addresses with an eye to fiscal responsibility, Armstrong pointed out. “And to be honest with you, when we got to this building, the numbers we were looking at, … there was just no possible way” the township could afford a “proper” overhaul of the building, he said. “It wasn’t feasible.”
He credited Ken Byers, contractor and chief of the Morewood Fire Department, for coming up with a plan to stretch the township’s $100,000 contribution. “Ken just looked at me and said, ‘This is our turn,” the councillor and North Dundas Fire Commissioner recalled. He compared the recently concluded Morewood initiative to the building of the South Mountain Fire Hall and the reconstruction of the Chesterville and Winchester ball diamonds — all involving a lot of donated time and effort several years earlier.
In Morewood’s case, Byers’s crew of firefighters from the hamlet’s fire station next door received special applause for their labour. “It was unbelievable, it was selfless. They were ready to go before council was ready to go, as a matter of fact, and they worked tirelessly and they did an amazing job, along with the other volunteers,” said Armstrong.
A new plaque from council hangs on the wall of the building, expressing thanks to the community, “and that’s signed by the mayor and a very grateful council,” Duncan said.
The building has benefited from a new roof and siding, along with all new paint and ceiling tiles indoors. The kitchen was already redone before leaks suddenly became a problem last spring. And the flooring is still set to be replaced, according to Duncan.
The revitalization has also revived the community’s recreation association, now headed by Debbie Courneyea.