First step towards progress, committee granted access to Forward House

Forward House, June 2017 – (The Leader/Blancher photo)

MORRISBURG – The Historical Society of South Dundas was granted its first request by this South Dundas council.

Anne Presley, the new president of HSSD was at the January 15th council meeting to ask permission for the group to get inside Forward House, the 1800s municipally-owned stone house that
was sentenced to and then saved from demolition. She was asking for permission to advance one of the first projects of the newly re-invigorated committee.

The mandate of the HSSD is to promote, enhance and develop the history of all South Dundas: but they have a sub-committee that’s ready to get to work on the renovation and revitalization of Forward House.

What Presley asked for was: “Council’s permission to delve into the history of Forward House and determine the resources and funding needed to protect, restore and make it into a useful building that will serve South Dundas and contribute to the overall value of the waterfront.”

The group is willing to develop a preliminary program for its use, research potential grants and do a preliminary assessment of the funding required to achieve their vision for this building.

“It is our vision that Forward House will become a multi-generational meeting place that pays tribute to the pre-existing Old Town of Iroquois, the Seaway project and the effects of the building of the Seaway along ‘the front’ especially in South Dundas,” said Presley. “There is a rich history that bears telling before it is completely lost.”

To get started working towards that vision, their request was quite a simple one, which council quickly granted – access to the building.

The group had been denied access to the building when they held a special event there on the site in September.

Most of the election candidates were at that September meeting, and had expressed support for the committee.

“At that time I committed my support to the actions of this group that had come forward and I continue that support today,” said South Dundas deputy mayor Kirsten Gardner. “I would like to see you have access so you can make decisions about projects and what’s involved. I commend you for continuing the fight.”

“I agree,” said South Dundas councillor Donald Lewis. “I too attended that meeting and was in support, and I haven’t changed my mind.”

“I too support your request to get in there,” said South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan. “It’s of utmost importance to get in the building and evaluate what needs to be done and to look at what kind of condition it’s in.”

“I agree for your committee to go in there,” said South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells. “That’s the starting point.”

Presley pointed out that while they are assessing the building they will at the same time be looking for appropriate grants.

“Your group has certainly put its heart and soul into this building,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds.

He agreed the group should go into the building to do some self-assessment.

“It does need a lot of work, but I think there’s a solid foundation there to work with,” continued Byvelds. “The first thing is for you guys to get in there to see what kind of path you need to enact your vision, and to make sure it’s a feasible vision. It will certainly take some funding, there’s no doubt about it, but it has potential.”

Either the CAO or the mayor are the primary contact for the group to make arrangements to get into the building.

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