Have you ever heard of the hot stove league? In the U.S., it is used to describe those who hang together in the winter months to discuss the trades and possible rebuilding tactics of baseball teams.
In Canada, it was the description of the fans who hung around the hot wood or coal-burning stoves that heated the old natural ice arenas of the 1930s.
Those fans would congregate during the intermissions and discuss the tactics their players should be using to win at hockey. If the games were really close, they added a few logs to the fire to heat up the discussion.
Today those hot stove leagues have been replaced by coffee shop clatter, where the problems of the community, the province, the nation, and the world are hashed out and solutions discussed.
Nobody takes notes, but often there are some very common sense ideas tossed out.
Something like that happened last week at a coffee shop in Fort Frances.
As we know, the local public school board is proceeding with building a new school in the centre of Fort Frances to replace the current Robert Moore School.
As an elementary school, it will have the most modern and technological advances. In addition to computer labs and smart boards, it also will have a new library.
This is where the common sense came in. Someone suggested that instead of the Town of Fort Frances building a stand-alone library, maybe a partnership could be created to build a library attached to the new school.
The discussion looked at the fact the library would have a common wall with the school, a common mechanical heating and cooling system, and common maintenance.
The idea is similar to the multi-use agreement that attached Confederation College to the new Fort Frances High School, as well as created the Townshend Theatre that serves both the students and community at large.
Construction costs could be reduced for both buildings and long-term maintenance costs also might be reduced. The school board has a quality IT department that also could assist at the library for the IT enhancements that are being touted.
The Town of Fort Frances and library board had hoped for additional funding from the provincial government. When that failed to materialize, the town now wants to examine what the real costs for the library will be and to examine funding the building internally.
Historically, the province has liked multi-use facilities with partners between education and communities. This coffee shop idea of building a multi-use facility with a community library and elementary school joined could attract additional provincial funds.
The idea merits exploration and discussion between the Rainy River District School Board, the Town of Fort Frances, and the Fort Frances Public Library board.
The upside might be that the town and immediate communities would get a new library with all the hoped for improvements in the current plans at a price the community can afford.
The downside might be that the planned library could be delayed by 12-18 months. The other downside is that a greatly scaled down new library might result if additional funding can’t be found.
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