Open letter to Media, Citizens, Council & Staff in Haldimand.      

The Haldimand County “Cayuga Library & Heritage Centre” News Release of May 29, 2018 is loaded with the usual spin and misleading information.

Originally in October 2015 the budget of $1,700,000 to build a 6,000 sq. ft. library  (no heritage centre) in the Village Green was approved.  Now, on Hwy 3, with costs over $4 million, the ruinous destruction / construction activity including extensive parking restrictions will force businesses in the area to the wall. No relief until winter of 2019.

The new 6455 sq. ft. building, reduced from 7,400 sq ft. to fit on the highway site and reduce costs, is not located in the heart of Cayuga’s downtown core. That “heart” has always been located at the corners of Cayuga and King Street where the present library, Post Office, and Market Square reside.

The “heritage”  space is not 1,400 sq. ft., 800 for exhibit and  600 for archives. Architect Their-Curran’s floor plan of January 11, 2018  strangely not included  in the press release, shows 622 sq. ft. for museum exhibits, a 25% reduction, and 552 sq. ft. for genealogy in direct contradiction to council’s edicts. A far cry from the 4,400 sq. ft. Haldimand County Museum & Archives (HCMA) as now exists.

Note: this new concept is not a Haldimand County Museum according to provincial standards – that’s why it’s called the “Cayuga…Heritage Centre”.  This facility will only service a miniscule proportion of the 3,851 visitors, many tourists, who yearly visited the HCMA.

The location map accompanying the News Release shows the building entrance off Highway 3 as auxiliary. The main entrance is shown from the parking lot. However, the floor plan shows both entrances exactly the same width with similar canopies and access to the lobby. Most people will be approaching on foot, exposed to the dangers of Hwy 3, and would use the obvious front entrance.

The present Cayuga Library is open about twenty-four hours a week.  Where do the county, Library Board and Museum Board expect to find the multitude of new patrons to utilize this “state-of-the-art” building? Reports before council by the Library Board show declining library attendance.   Expect a rush of gawkers when the building first opens, then a 4 million dollar “white elephant” underutilized stage from then on.

Cayuga needed a new, updated library, not this obscenely expensive over-budget jumble of library and minimal artifacts and do-it-yourself genealogy.  The museum Pooh-Bahs cruelly forced the knowledgeable, volunteer genealogists, who effectively aided tourists, out of the museum along with the Ontario Genealogical Records.

For the  “heritage” space’s annual exhibit rotation, artifacts will be trundled back and forth to the new admin building basement, exposing them to damage and loss.

God only knows where “pop-up” exhibits will come from or how artifacts will be protected and saved from loss or damage. Where?

No more donations of artifacts to the “Heritage Centre” will be possible due to no storage room being available anywhere. No citizen in their right mind would offer artifacts in this atmosphere anyway.  Contrary to Mayor Hewitt’s vanilla comments on “preserving local history”, we can only decry the destruction and desecration of Haldimand’s history and artifacts on the altar of senseless uncontrolled spending and pseudo progress.

A new up-to-date 6,000 sq. ft. library on the Village Green and retention of the existing HCMA would be infinitely superior to the cobbled-up building on the Highway 3 site. Save almost $3 million in the process. Demolish the hotel and build new on the Village Green.

This will not be a done deal if a different council and mayor are elected on October 22nd. Then citizens, please vote to preserve the rich unique records of Cayuga’s historic past. Louts out.

John Walker, Cayuga