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Town may have buyer for riverfront property

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While the potential property sale still is being discussed behind closed doors, the town may have a buyer for the riverfront property just east of the Riverwalk Condominiums.

At Monday night’s regular meeting, council received an offer to purchase property at 625 Nelson St. from 1621623 Ontario Ltd. (Pinecrest Manor) and referred it to the Planning and Development executive committee for its recommendation, with input from town solicitor Wesley Derksen.

Also Monday, council passed a bylaw to amend the zoning bylaw to change zoning for 625 Nelson St. from Residential Type 3 and Tourist Commercial to Residential Type 4 (to accommodate the possible future development of an apartment dwelling).

In other news, in a brief continuation of the discussion about museum staffing from the March 2 budget meeting, Mayor Avis said Monday night that museum website traffic may not be as great as had been reported.

At that time, council was told the site had seen over 140,000 “hits” last year, but the mayor said he received data that the site had only seen 1,413 visits from July, 2008 to February, 2009.

“That’s quite a difference from what we’d seen in our report last week,” he remarked.

Community Services manager George Bell admitted he previously didn’t realize that one visit could equal several hits when calculating website traffic, but added that since last Monday, Information and Technology manager Darryl Allan has informed him the museum’s website actually saw 224,000 hits in 2008, translating into an estimated 17,000 visits.

“I am still quite impressed by those kinds of numbers,” he said.

In response to discussions last Monday that the museum generated only $3,000 in revenue last year, yet saw over 8,000 visitors, Bell said he now has a preliminary report from museum staff regarding attendees and revenues, which will be distributed to council later this week.

He clarified the total revenue brought in through programs and attendees was, in fact, $19,153.

“It’s all in the budget . . . most of it is program revenue, and is shown as an expense recovery, so I can understand everybody’s confusion on it,” Bell noted.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, council:

•agreed that land located at McIrvine Road and Eighth Street be declared surplus, notice be given, and a bylaw prepared;

•appointed Shari Humphrey to the Fort Frances Public Library board (the term will end Nov. 31, 2010);

•received the 2008 annual drinking water system report;

•agreed to hire DST Consulting for $14,474 to provide the town with a designated substance (asbestos) survey report and designated substance management plan (this is in compliance with the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act);

•directed that the clerk undertake to stop up and close a portion of a laneway and that it be offered for sale at a land purchase cost of $.50 per square foot to J.N. Webb & Sons, on such additional conditions that the purchaser assume all fees and other costs associated with the sale;

•authorized a donation of $100 to the Rainy River District Music Festival Association;

•approved the Provincial Offences Fort Frances Court Services audited financial statements for the year ended Dec. 31, 2008, and further that the invoice for audited services ($3,255) be paid;

•agreed to a recommendation of the Administration and Finance executive committee to approve financing from reserve funds for emergency services and heritage tourism capital expenditures for 2008 in the total amount of $18,805.59;

•agree to declare the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship a significant community festival and event, donate $2,000 for the operating budget, donate 350 town pins and two dozen flags, and designate the mayor or his designate to act as honorary host for the FFCBC;

•received an invitation to attend the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition’s strategic planning session on Tuesday, March 31 at La Place Rendez-Vous, noting all members of council are welcome to attend;

•approved travel expenses and per diem claims for Mayor Roy Avis ($1,569.22) and Couns. Paul Ryan ($1,413.66) and Rick Wiedenhoeft ($1,413.66), as well as travel expenses for CAO Mark McCaig ($316), for attendance at the Ontario Good Roads Association-Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto on Feb. 22-25; and

•approved a per diem claim for Coun. Ken Perry in the amount of $120 (for attendance at the Rainy River District Municipal Association meeting in Atikokan on Jan. 31).

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