Warwick Mayor concerned about Gallery fundraising

By BARRY WRIGHT
Lambton Shield

Todd Case wants the glass to be half full but is concerned that it's half empty instead. 

The Mayor of Warwick Township continues to be anxious that a little less than one-third of a $3.3 fundraising campaign for a new art gallery under construction across from Bayside Mall in Sarnia has been realized to date.

"My concern is the financial side of things," said Case during a county council committee meeting on Wednesday morning in Wyoming. "It always has been."

Case said the impact of taxpayers is first and foremost in his mind. "How is all this [the cost of the project] going to impact our ratepayers?" 

Case said he remains not only unconvinced the county will not eventually have to pick up part of the cost, but is also troubled that visitors to the existing gallery dropped 57 per cent in the third quarter of this year due to a reduction in both programs and exhibitions.

"I want to make sure we keep the people engaged," he added.

Case pointed to the successful fundraising for the Shores Recreation Centre in Forest as a template to be followed.

"They (the community) came out of the gate running and never stopped."

But Susie Beynon, the county's public services manager says the situation is temporary and not unexpected.

Staff, she said have been concentrating on the development of the new gallery, including pursuing grant opportunities.

For his part, Warden Jim Burns said he feels the $234,000 spent to hire a fundraising consultant on a one-year contract that expired in mid-October was well spent. "They did a very good job in getting a foundation in place," said Burns. "Now it's just a matter of pounding the pavement out there."

Construction on the new gallery is expected to be complete by late 2011.

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