City to claim Courcelle today
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | March 26,2013
The city expects to finally take possession of the Courcelle Brothers building today.
Mayor Christopher Louras said a FedEx package is due to arrive with paperwork which, once signed, gives the city “constructive possession” of the former reserve center. The form includes a blank for the date on which the city will take responsibility for the building at noon.
“If I get the thing before noon, I’ll sign it and we’ll have it at noon,” Louras said.
The city has been waiting for more than a year and half to move the recreation department’s administrative and maintenance functions into Courcelle. The reserve center closed when it was supplanted by the new facility on Post Road.
The city will not actually take ownership of the building today, according to Louras, but the deed will follow in “the not too near future.”
“We take over the liability, care, control, everything,” he said. “The constructive possession means ... we have all the duties and responsibilities to act as the owner of the building. That means we can start moving in at the appropriate time.”
Just what the “appropriate time” will be remains to be determined. Louras said Recreation Superintendent EJay Bishop was arranging to get the keys to the building so he could review the available space.
When he closed the Dana building in June of 2011, Louras said he expected to be able to move the suddenly displaced recreation department into Courcelle some time that August.
In September of last year, the U.S. Army declared the building safe to turn over, but the National Park Service still had to undergo its own process. The following December, Bishop could only tell a group of inquisitive aldermen that the federal government was not being forthcoming about the timeline.
Just last week, Louras said the city was “still standing by to stand by.”
In that time, Bishop’s office has been in a walk-in closet at the Godnick Adult Center, and other offices were placed in spaces that building had previously used for programming.
Louras said the administrative and maintenance functions will take up residence at Courcelle as Bishop reviews what programs might be appropriate to locate their. However, he said the move will immediately free up program space at Godnick.
“Since we made the decision to close down Dana, the functions of the rec department have been very limited in space and it has affected programming,” Louras said. “We look forward to restoring programming to what the taxpayers have come to expect.”