At the last meeting of Council it was decided to give $15,000 to Acadia as a gesture of “good will”, no strings attached. There is more to the story than that but that is the bottom line.
David Daniels has an opinion on it and we are pleased to publish it here.
COUNCIL DOES THE INEXPLICABLE
On Monday night, April 20th, Council did the inexplicable. By resolution, Council decided to give Acadia University $15,000.00 to help pay for the new track and field in order to demonstrate the Town’s “good faith”. This is the first of four $15,000.00 annual payments.
In order to pass this resolution the Council had to rescind its own resolution, dated July 16, 2007, which provided in part that any money given to the University for the track and field would be “subject to Council/Acadia achieving a written agreement on community access to the facility. . .” No such agreement has been reached.
The Council also did not follow the recommendation of the Town’s Recreation and Parks Planning Advisory Committee which recommended that no money should be given to the University and that negotiations between the Town and University continue.
Why has it taken over a year and a half to reach an agreement which really should not be so complicated? Some Councilors and the Mayor explained that the delay was due to problems at Acadia: there was the strike, a lame duck president, time to pick a new president, the individuals who made the initial presentation to the Council were no longer at Acadia.
Now, however, finally, there is a new president who is reaching out to the community.
Although there was a good deal of discussion amongst the Councilors and Mayor, essential questions were not posed, let alone answered.
Why in the world does the Town have to demonstrate “good faith” toward the University? Why didn’t the University demonstrate good faith toward the Town? For example, the University could allow the Town soccer teams to use the new field for free or at a discount for the upcoming season? And did someone at the University suggest to the Town that a good faith gesture was needed?
Apparently, by way of justifying the “good faith” payment, the Mayor commented: Close your eyes; think about what Wolfville would be like without the University.
Such an exercise might have been fruitful in 1842, when I suppose the University might have decided: let’s move, this town is not very hospitable. But this reasoning makes no sense now. The University may be experiencing financial difficulty, it might downsize, but I don’t see it moving to another location.
I readily admit I don’t know the history the relationship between the Town and the University. I am very happy Acadia is in the Town and the Town of Wolfville would be a very different, and likely, a much less attractive town without it. But Acadia is in Wolfville and is not about to move to some other town.
I can think of no reason and none were provided by Council why the Town needs to show good faith to Aacdia at this time. If in fact the fault lies with the University for the delay in reaching an agreement, then it would seem that the University should show good faith to the Town if it wants the $60,000.00.
As I recall, Acadia sold the idea of the Town contributing to the cost of the new track and field with the argument that special sporting events would be able to be held at the University with its new state of the art track and field and would thus be beneficial for the Town, including its businesses. Perhaps. But I suspect a lot of the teams who would visit won’t be eating at Actons or the Tempest or staying at the Blomidon Inn. But instead will go to McDonalds, Burger King, A & W, Boston Pizza, etc, etc in New MInas. And did Acadia solicit and/or receive money from Kings County? Not to my knowledge.
All in all, the Mayor and Town Councilors (with the exception of Councilor Irving who voted against the resolution) demonstrated poor stewardship of the Town’s money. Think of all the recreational activity that $15,000.00, let alone $60,000.00, could fund.
I hope that the Town will reach some sort of agreement with Acadia, and soon. And next time the Town believes it has to show good faith, I suggest a simple letter will suffice.
Here is a sample first draft I’m happy to provide:
Dear Mr. President:
Congratulations on your appointment. The Town wishes you a successful and long tenure at Acadia University.
As you may be aware, the Town in July 2007 committed to help pay for the new track and field, $60,000.00 over four years subject to entering into an agreement with the University. Unfortunately, no agreement has yet been reached at this date.
The members of the Town Council are confident that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached between the Town and University in the near future. With that goal in mind, representatives of the Town would be happy to meet with you or your representative at a time and place of your choosing.
Again, congratulations and members of Town Council look forward to advancing a close and cooperative relationship between the University and Town.
David A. Daniels
April 22, 2009
We want to note that Mr. Irving had reservations about this motion and voted against it but asked that the vote not be recorded, presumably so it could appear unanimous and not detract from the feeling of “good will” to be expressed.