Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Tear Down or Rebuild

Posted by auroracitizen on September 29, 2009

There were 2 articles in the Sunday Banner dealing with older buildings in Aurora.

The first dealt with the Petch log house and second Wells Street School.

A decision needs to be made about whether to invest in rebuilding the Petch log house structure, or to tear it down. Arguments for rebuilding are supported by the historical significance. While the tear down argument is that the building is well past its “best before date” and it will be too expensive to rebuild.

The same arguments to varying degrees apply to Wells Street School.

Regardless of whether it is a Town managed asset or a Board asset, the cost for rebuilding ultimately comes out of our wallets through our taxes.

So what’s your take?

Is the desire to preserve our heritage overstepping our fiscal abilities? Or should we re-build at any cost because it is preserving a piece of our heritage.

11 Responses to “Tear Down or Rebuild”

  1. said

    To Tim The Enchanter

    Whitwell owns the building. They have not said they don’t want to dismantle it and move it in pieces and rebuild it with boards salvaged from a building of similar vintage if they can be found.
    They have not said they are willing to clean out the building,let it sit open to dry out and hire an expert to determine its condition before deciding if it is possible to take it to pieces, search for sound vintage boards to replace rotten ones and re-assemble it on a site of our choosing with foundation and utilities connected at their expense.
    They have not refused to do these things. They have never been asked.
    It has been assumed the agreement they made six years ago when they put the building down for a minute while the town made up its mind where it was to go, still stands.
    The only contact since was for them to be royal screwed over the sign they paid for to proclaim their enterprise and entrance to the Town of Aurora
    Oh yes, businesses at the centre were harried and hounded by the Mayor because they had the audacity to open for business before their permanent signage was in place and put up temporary banners.

  2. Anonymous said

    What about $10 worth of gasoline and a match?

  3. Tim the Enchanter said

    Sorry – Whitwell

  4. Tim the Enchanter said

    Thanks for the clarification Councilor Buck.

    So Whitworth agreed to move the building to a location of our choosing and we get to own it, except that now they don’t want to move it and we don’t want it anyway.

    Now the Town wants to spend $5000 to explore the options on an agreement that both parties no longer wish to fulfill?

    Any chance that common sense will prevail?
    How about proposing that the Town split the cost with Whitworth to dispose of this pile before we waste any more money?

  5. said

    I thought I clarified ownership of the Petch House. Whitwell Developments owns it. In June of 2003 they signed an agreement with the town to re-locate the building to a site of our choosing, On a foundation they constructed and with utilities hooked up ownership would then be transferred to the town.

    We never found a location or a party interested in using the building. The building can no longer be transferred without being taken apart, rotten timbers replaced and re-assembled on the new site. That’s not what Whitwell committed to in the agreement.

    The inside of the building is saturated, full of mould, dead carcasses and animal feces and all sorts of other nasty stuff. The condition from the inside cannot be determined without being dried out and scraped clean and whether it will stand up to that is questionable.

    The gate to the property was open yesterday. I went through and checked out the back of the structure. It is very much worse than the front.

    Another Petch structure on the same site as this one was sold to Peter Van Nostrand of Vandorf, who disassembled and transported it to be re-assembled on a site in Minden. Apparently, whoever owned the property before Whitwell sold it. It was worth buying while the other was not and keeping it here seemed not to be a priority.

    How much more detail does anyone need to understand this one hundred and sixty five year old relic has only one claim to fame?

    It is still standing but only as long as nobody tries to move it.

  6. Tim the Enchanter said

    Petch House

    Councillor Buck addressed this topic on her blog and answered some questions but can anyone tell us:
    1. Who, exactly, owns this house?
    2. Who, exactly, is pushing to restore it?
    3. Does the Town have a designated historical preservation budget? if so, how much is it?

    As far as the Town is concerned it shouldn’t matter if restoration costs millions. If a group is determined to preserve or restore the building then they should raise the necessary funds. If they wish to make an application to the Town to receive a portion of an historical preservation budget (if one exists) then so be it. The Town may consider assisting the effort to obtain funding from higher levels of government should such finding exist. The Town might even consider donating a location in lieu of budgeted funds but turning the Petch House into a major capital expenditure?
    No way.
    At best we’d end up with a nice old house, not a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Wells Street School

    From articles that Ron Wallace has written it seems there might be confusion regarding the school’s historical significance or lack thereof.
    Although a school was built there in the 1890’s very little if any of that building remains. My understanding is that the existing school more accurately reflects the last major renovation made in the late 1950’s with bits and pieces repaired or added in the years since (the old façade notwithstanding)
    Nostalgia aside, what we’re talking about here is a local historical SITE, not a national historic BUILDING.
    This one is easy.
    Get the school board to sell it to the Town for a dollar (or something reasonable), put up an historical plaque, decide on suitable development of the property and fetch the wrecking ball.

  7. White Knight said

    I think the mayor and council are completely over the top with the heritage kick. I do not believe in demolishing everything old but I think a town has to have a balance between history, present and future based on the changing needs and times. One issue that I have heard raised often is the lack of affordable (and I really mean affordable) housing in this town. We cannot continually live in the past if we are ignoring current needs/issues and not moving them forward.

  8. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    Besides I wouldn’t be worried about anything being torn down in Aurora, not without a proper “Notice of Reconsideration” anyways.

    After all, putting up and taking down are the same issue, as Evelina has been quick to correct us.

    I don’t know about you but I’m taking my Pepto now so I can watch the council meeting tonight.

  9. Elizabeth Bishenden said

    The decision to close Wells St. PS was made by the YRDSB on September 24. Apparently the Town is interested in buying the building.

    I’m not so much concerned with preserving old buildings as I am about the situation I see around Town Park and Library Square. With Wells St. PS closing permanently, there are now three empty buildings that are publicly owned in that area. As well, the Town owns Victoria Hall.

    Is there a plan for this area?

  10. someone who loves this town more than politics said

    I see the two as separate issues.

    Perhaps when the board has decided what is to be done with Wells and if it falls back to the town for protection, or better, for re-use then the two can be compared. I truly hope that Wells can find partners that want to operate out of it.

    As for the Petch house, I thought there was some debate as to how it is part of Aurora’s history and not a surrounding towns, perhaps this should be clarified before an all-out effort is made to save it.

    It alarms me that so much has been made regarding the historical significance of the Petch House, yet the town did nothing to protect the amazing farm house that was demolished to make way for the Toyota dealership on the SW corner of Baview & Wellington.

    That was an amazing structure being used as a Montessori school right up until they bulldozed it.
    The cost with moving it may have been great, but the structure was worth saving. I fail to see the same in the Petch house.

  11. Anonymous said

    Perhaps if the outside legal bills had been lower we could have paid for the Petch house to be updated.

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