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millennium funding

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By Loreth Beswetherick Millennium Place got a significant shot in the arm Monday night when council voted to contribute $300,000 from municipal coffers to fundraising efforts but it was not without significant debate. The price tag for construction of the interfaith chapel and multi-purpose building – destined for land between the BrewHouse and municipal hall – is around $5.6 million. The $300,000 donation comes from money paid the RMOW by the Park Georgia Group in lieu of developing more tennis courts on their land. Director of parks and recreation, Bill Barratt, said the cash had not been committed to any particular project and Park Georgia had agreed to this use of the funds. The municipal donation comes with a stipulation – $200,000 is to be allotted to the general building fund. The $100,000 balance is to go to equipment and furnishings for the teen centre. Councillor Ted Milner supports the project and donation but he was uncomfortable making commitments with scant knowledge of the fundraising status of the project, the design, the costing and construction schedule. "Have they set a minimum level of donations before they start construction?" he asked. "I don’t want to be negative. I think we should support this but I think we should give right." Milner said with all the facts on the table, council may want to give more, for example. "Would it not be appropriate to have construction scheduling set with the funding?" Milner said he would like to see something that shows the project is viable and won’t be left half built. Municipal administrator Jim Godfrey said consultant Hillary Bookham had been engaged by the chapel society to review the project and had assessed its viability. He said the $300,000 would provide leverage for further fundraising efforts. The municipality has already contributed in the region of $750,000 to Millennium Place in deferred taxes and works and services charges. Councillor Dave Kirk wanted the latest $300,000 contribution to be tagged for bricks and mortar. He said he was loathe to see the taxpayer dollars spent on soft costs like administration and architect’s fees. But Mayor Hugh O’Reilly asked that the funds not be handcuffed in any way. He said the soft costs have to be incurred before hard costs can be reached. "It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation." He added Millennium Place will be a signature building in the village. He said there were large potential donations in the offing. Stephen Milstein, who heads the Millennium Place fundraising steering committee said progress is being made. He declined, however to talk figures. "We are having ongoing discussions with a number of very able and willing donors." He said he fully expects to be building in the year 2000 and open by the winter of 2000. "Amako construction is meeting with us and the architect on Friday," said Milstein, "and we will be laying out a construction schedule." Milstein said the building passed Design Panel review last week with flying colours. He said the design is spectacular and Millennium Place will stand out as a signature structure in the resort.

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