DRESCHEL: Finally — a vision for Auchmar

Opinion Jun 16, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Tom Jackson was so excited by the latest proposal for Auchmar he seemed ready to hand over the keys to the place right then and there.

But he wasn't the only member of city council mesmerized by the prospect of leasing the city-owned money pit to an offshoot of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger was "spellbound" by the presentation from Sgt. Brian Buckle and Lt. Richard Moll.

Aidan Johnson thanked them for giving him "hope" for the deteriorating 1854 manor house.

And Sam Merulla called it "one of the best opportunities" ever for dealing with the west Mountain heritage building, which requires up to $8 million in capital repairs.

Given all this enthusiasm it's hardly surprising councillors voted to retain city ownership instead of trying to find a private sector buyer.

In fact, they were so pumped to get on with negotiating an operating agreement with a group such as the one associated with RHLI, that Merulla, Eisenberger and ward Coun.Terry Whitehead were tripping over each for bragging rights on the motion.

What's this proposal got that others didn't? In short — a historic vision

The prospect of directly linking the country estate of Lt.-Col Isaac Buchanan — the 19th century founding commander of RHLI — to the modern Rileys offers the kind of storied community connection missing from other restoration proposals such as turning it into an arts and studio space or retreat and conference centre.

The RHLI idea is to make the 3.8-hectare grounds at the corner of Fennell and West 5th a public park and restore the building with "historical loyalty."

Uses include establishing regimental and teaching museums, consecrating a new RHLI chapel, turning the former coach house into a period brew pub and restaurant, and creating a new conference centre for overnight guests and community events.

They even want to run a crisis drop-in centre for members of the military and first responders.

"We want it for the citizens of Hamilton but we're also the citizens of Hamilton — citizen soldiers," Buckle said in an interview. "We're as much a part of the community as everyone else and we want to share that and share our history."

The proposal was submitted with the approval of RHLI, but isn't directed by the regiment, the Department of National Defence or Canadian Forces. It comes from the soon-to-be incorporated 13th Battalion Auchmar Trust.

The trust will receive donations via the 13th Regiment Foundation, RHLI's charitable arm, and advice from the regimental senate, which is made up of former senior Riley officers.

If you find this a tad confusing, don't worry, the Rileys do too, Buckle chuckled. "It's a standalone entity that is part of the regimental family as opposed to the regiment itself," he explained.

Yes, the plan is wildly ambitious. It could cost up to $14 million. No, there's no money in place. But as Richard Allen, a director of the Friends of Auchmar, told councillors, there is a "heck of a lot of goodwill for the Rileys."

How bankable those friendly feelings are remains to be seen. The concept expects to generate revenue to offset operating costs, but also involves paying for all capital repairs.

The trust plans on raising money through senior government grants and private sector patrons. Eisenberger told councillors on Wednesday that he'd seen the names of some of the latter and was impressed. The trust is keeping them confidential for the time being.

"Some of them are local," says Buckle. "There's one that's an out-of-towner but has serious links to the Hamilton area."

But money isn't the only obstacle. Because Auchmar has significant historic value, the Ontario Heritage Trust would have to approve every cadenced step they take.

Having already sunk about $2.5 million into the building, the city desperately wants to be swept off its feet by a white knight.

We'll soon see if the Rileys are the prayed for champion. Buckle says they hope to present a formal business plan to city staff in about three months.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

DRESCHEL: Finally — a vision for Auchmar

Opinion Jun 16, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Tom Jackson was so excited by the latest proposal for Auchmar he seemed ready to hand over the keys to the place right then and there.

But he wasn't the only member of city council mesmerized by the prospect of leasing the city-owned money pit to an offshoot of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger was "spellbound" by the presentation from Sgt. Brian Buckle and Lt. Richard Moll.

Aidan Johnson thanked them for giving him "hope" for the deteriorating 1854 manor house.

And Sam Merulla called it "one of the best opportunities" ever for dealing with the west Mountain heritage building, which requires up to $8 million in capital repairs.

Given all this enthusiasm it's hardly surprising councillors voted to retain city ownership instead of trying to find a private sector buyer.

In fact, they were so pumped to get on with negotiating an operating agreement with a group such as the one associated with RHLI, that Merulla, Eisenberger and ward Coun.Terry Whitehead were tripping over each for bragging rights on the motion.

What's this proposal got that others didn't? In short — a historic vision

The prospect of directly linking the country estate of Lt.-Col Isaac Buchanan — the 19th century founding commander of RHLI — to the modern Rileys offers the kind of storied community connection missing from other restoration proposals such as turning it into an arts and studio space or retreat and conference centre.

The RHLI idea is to make the 3.8-hectare grounds at the corner of Fennell and West 5th a public park and restore the building with "historical loyalty."

Uses include establishing regimental and teaching museums, consecrating a new RHLI chapel, turning the former coach house into a period brew pub and restaurant, and creating a new conference centre for overnight guests and community events.

They even want to run a crisis drop-in centre for members of the military and first responders.

"We want it for the citizens of Hamilton but we're also the citizens of Hamilton — citizen soldiers," Buckle said in an interview. "We're as much a part of the community as everyone else and we want to share that and share our history."

The proposal was submitted with the approval of RHLI, but isn't directed by the regiment, the Department of National Defence or Canadian Forces. It comes from the soon-to-be incorporated 13th Battalion Auchmar Trust.

The trust will receive donations via the 13th Regiment Foundation, RHLI's charitable arm, and advice from the regimental senate, which is made up of former senior Riley officers.

If you find this a tad confusing, don't worry, the Rileys do too, Buckle chuckled. "It's a standalone entity that is part of the regimental family as opposed to the regiment itself," he explained.

Yes, the plan is wildly ambitious. It could cost up to $14 million. No, there's no money in place. But as Richard Allen, a director of the Friends of Auchmar, told councillors, there is a "heck of a lot of goodwill for the Rileys."

How bankable those friendly feelings are remains to be seen. The concept expects to generate revenue to offset operating costs, but also involves paying for all capital repairs.

The trust plans on raising money through senior government grants and private sector patrons. Eisenberger told councillors on Wednesday that he'd seen the names of some of the latter and was impressed. The trust is keeping them confidential for the time being.

"Some of them are local," says Buckle. "There's one that's an out-of-towner but has serious links to the Hamilton area."

But money isn't the only obstacle. Because Auchmar has significant historic value, the Ontario Heritage Trust would have to approve every cadenced step they take.

Having already sunk about $2.5 million into the building, the city desperately wants to be swept off its feet by a white knight.

We'll soon see if the Rileys are the prayed for champion. Buckle says they hope to present a formal business plan to city staff in about three months.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel

DRESCHEL: Finally — a vision for Auchmar

Opinion Jun 16, 2016 by Andrew Dreschel The Hamilton Spectator

Tom Jackson was so excited by the latest proposal for Auchmar he seemed ready to hand over the keys to the place right then and there.

But he wasn't the only member of city council mesmerized by the prospect of leasing the city-owned money pit to an offshoot of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger was "spellbound" by the presentation from Sgt. Brian Buckle and Lt. Richard Moll.

Aidan Johnson thanked them for giving him "hope" for the deteriorating 1854 manor house.

And Sam Merulla called it "one of the best opportunities" ever for dealing with the west Mountain heritage building, which requires up to $8 million in capital repairs.

Given all this enthusiasm it's hardly surprising councillors voted to retain city ownership instead of trying to find a private sector buyer.

In fact, they were so pumped to get on with negotiating an operating agreement with a group such as the one associated with RHLI, that Merulla, Eisenberger and ward Coun.Terry Whitehead were tripping over each for bragging rights on the motion.

What's this proposal got that others didn't? In short — a historic vision

The prospect of directly linking the country estate of Lt.-Col Isaac Buchanan — the 19th century founding commander of RHLI — to the modern Rileys offers the kind of storied community connection missing from other restoration proposals such as turning it into an arts and studio space or retreat and conference centre.

The RHLI idea is to make the 3.8-hectare grounds at the corner of Fennell and West 5th a public park and restore the building with "historical loyalty."

Uses include establishing regimental and teaching museums, consecrating a new RHLI chapel, turning the former coach house into a period brew pub and restaurant, and creating a new conference centre for overnight guests and community events.

They even want to run a crisis drop-in centre for members of the military and first responders.

"We want it for the citizens of Hamilton but we're also the citizens of Hamilton — citizen soldiers," Buckle said in an interview. "We're as much a part of the community as everyone else and we want to share that and share our history."

The proposal was submitted with the approval of RHLI, but isn't directed by the regiment, the Department of National Defence or Canadian Forces. It comes from the soon-to-be incorporated 13th Battalion Auchmar Trust.

The trust will receive donations via the 13th Regiment Foundation, RHLI's charitable arm, and advice from the regimental senate, which is made up of former senior Riley officers.

If you find this a tad confusing, don't worry, the Rileys do too, Buckle chuckled. "It's a standalone entity that is part of the regimental family as opposed to the regiment itself," he explained.

Yes, the plan is wildly ambitious. It could cost up to $14 million. No, there's no money in place. But as Richard Allen, a director of the Friends of Auchmar, told councillors, there is a "heck of a lot of goodwill for the Rileys."

How bankable those friendly feelings are remains to be seen. The concept expects to generate revenue to offset operating costs, but also involves paying for all capital repairs.

The trust plans on raising money through senior government grants and private sector patrons. Eisenberger told councillors on Wednesday that he'd seen the names of some of the latter and was impressed. The trust is keeping them confidential for the time being.

"Some of them are local," says Buckle. "There's one that's an out-of-towner but has serious links to the Hamilton area."

But money isn't the only obstacle. Because Auchmar has significant historic value, the Ontario Heritage Trust would have to approve every cadenced step they take.

Having already sunk about $2.5 million into the building, the city desperately wants to be swept off its feet by a white knight.

We'll soon see if the Rileys are the prayed for champion. Buckle says they hope to present a formal business plan to city staff in about three months.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. adreschel@thespec.com 905-526-3495 @AndrewDreschel