Two weeks ago, developer Sean McAdam, in his response to my letter published in the July 28, edition of The Low Down (“Please don’t sell our public land”), suggested that somehow the public comes out ahead if the municipality sells him an acre of public land along Old Chelsea Road because he granted the municipality a narrow right of way for the water and sewage services that primarily benefit him and other developers (“Sale will increase available public land,” Aug. 4 edition).
He sidestepped my main question to the municipality.
As a Chelsea resident, taxpayer, and volunteer, I am asking why this land has to be sold in the first place. Why can’t it be used for community benefit instead?
This valuable piece of land – people in the real estate business say it is worth in the vicinity of $2 million – is directly across from Greg Christie’s bike and ski shop. It presents many options for enhancing our community. As an active volunteer and donor of Chelsea Trails, I would like to see it used as the trailhead for skiers, walkers, and others to start or end their trip along the new community trail, which will link Chelsea to the Gatineau city limits.
The land is where Chelsea has built the pumping station for key municipal services to the village and where the municipality has located the historic Cascades train station. Historical plaques could tell the evolution of the village and benches could provide a convenient rest stop. I am sure there are many other creative community uses that it could be put to, if only residents could have some input.
I understand that at its last meeting the Chelsea Recreation, Sports, Culture, and Community Life committee recommended that there be no sale of this land until consultations with community groups have determined its potential uses to improve the quality of life for residents. This is a wise recommendation. It is time to hit pause.
Chelsea Council has a duty to ensure that this land asset is managed with due diligence and under an appropriate and transparent process. Since last February, I have been requesting information about this proposed sale and so far I have received no clear answer from the municipality.
Unlike a developer, I have no pecuniary interest in the matter. I do, however, expect our council to conduct our municipal business with the same care and probity with which we all strive to conduct our personal affairs.
Meriel Beament Bradford