A group of concerned Sackville residents is continuing its fight to save the former Sackville United Church.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – A community group hoping to save the former United Church from being dismantled and removed from the downtown streetscape is not giving up without a fight.
Despite an offer already in the works on the church building, which was put on the market last month for a dollar with the understanding that it is to be moved at the buyer’s expense, the local group SPLASH (Sackville People Leading Action to Save Heritage) has responded by putting in an alternate offer to purchase the building with a proposal to keep the structure in place.
John Duchemin, chair of SPLASH, said he believes the majority of Sackville citizens would like to see the iconic building stay where it is, on the site that it has sat on for the past 135-plus years.
He said removing the church from Sackville would be like removing the CN tower from Toronto.
“There are a lot of townspeople who care about this building. We think it’s important to everyone in the town,” said John. “And this is really the only chance we have to save it.”
Although the details on SPLASH’s offer to JN Lafford Realty Inc. (the property owners) weren’t divulged, John said the proposal involves buying the building along with the property because the two go hand in hand.
He is confident the funds can be raised to support the purchase and there are other sources of funding (government, bank financing, etc.) that could be tapped into as well for the operation and maintenance costs.
“I think when it’s time to purchase it, people will come forward.”
As the new owners, SPLASH would repurpose the building in a way that retains its beauty, makes it self-sustaining, and would be a source of pride for the town, he said. One idea that has been suggested has been converting the former church into a community centre; but there are plenty of other options as well, said John’s wife and fellow committee member Erna Duchemin.
Erna said SPLASH is willing to work with the Laffords in any way necessary to ensure that building stays put and to bring some of these ideas to fruition.
“It’s not too late. We can still save that building and repurpose it,” she said.
Both say they would be disappointed if the building was to be sold to a buyer who is only going to dismantle it and have it moved elsewhere.
“We’d like to see it continue to have life, to be able to drive by it and see the lights on again,” said John.
SPLASH presented a petition signed by over 400 Sackville residents to town council during their discussion meeting Monday night. The petition stated “We, the undersigned, are in favour of keeping, restoring, and repurposing the iconic heritage building at 112 Main Street, Sackville, New Brunswick that is known as the Sackville United Church. This historically and architecturally significant building should be revitalized to serve the community.”
John said he hopes council will support a motion at next Monday night’s council meeting that recognizes the importance of this historically significant building to the town and its citizens.
“If you would like to lend your voice to this effort please contact the mayor and councillors . . . and come to the meeting!” he said.