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Vineland Public School building will go

By Mike Williscraft

While the fate of the historic Vineland Public School building was set long ago, Lincoln Council has cleared up any lingering confusion regarding the possibility of its preservation.

At its regular meeting on Monday, several members of council commented on misinformation, previous public delegation comments and a submitted petition.

For all intents and purposes, the plan for the site and new school being constructed there – to open Fall 2015 – was set in April 2014 when council approved a site plan submitted by the District School Board of Niagara, said Coun. Wayne MacMillan.

“The Town and the DSBN entered into a site plan agreement. That plan does not show any exsiting buildings on that property. The school board does not intend to maintain any of those buildings,” said MacMillan.

Since April, MacMillan noted there has been a lot of confusing points made and a statement he read, along with comments from other councillors and the mayor, were to serve as a clear indicator what will happen and why.

Among the points made:

• The school building is owned by the DSBN, not the Town, so council has little say about its future;

• Lincoln’s Heritage Committee and Friends of VPS are two different entities. “The Friends do not represent the Heritage Committee nor speak for them,” said MacMillan, and;

• Lincoln and Niagara-on-the-Lake comparisons to their Parliament Oak (PA) situation are unfounded. PA has nothing to do with heritage.

The entire council agreed there were flaws in the process, something they heard repeatedly from proponents of preserving the building.

The communication infrastructure of the town, where heritage matters are concerned with now see a complete overhaul as a result.

“We had solid discussion of the issue and we made the right decision,” said Coun. Rob Foster.

“But from a communication viewpoint, we failed.”

In structuring its committees, one new post was given to MacMillan. He is now the Town’s liaison for heritage groups.

“It is an informal but important communication link,” said Mayor Sandra Easton.

Earlier, Easton had noted, “Council is responsible to uphold the decisions of past councils. There is no grounds to reverse any of the decisions. It is now time to move on.”

Coun. Dianne Rintjema agreed.

“There has been a lot of misinformation but it is time to look to the future and ensure our practices are something we can be happy with and that they take into account the public interest,” Rintjema said.

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