Former Sackville Mayor Pat Estabrooks says town council’s recent decision to replace the charcoal drawings on the Sports Wall of Fame (SWOF) with smaller plaques shows that some local politicians are completely out of touch.
“I just disagree totally,” Estabrooks said during an interview this week. “A plaque isn’t the same as a drawing and I think those drawings are wonderful,” she added. “That’s something that we as a community should be proud of and something that should be displayed publicly.”
At their meeting on October 15, a majority of councillors voted to accept a recommendation from the SWOF board to replace the 13 by 18 inch drawings of inductees with plaques that would be approximately 8 by 10 inches in size.
Estabrooks said that instead of voting to take the drawings down because wall space is running out in the Civic Centre foyer, local politicians should be searching for ways to keep them.
“I think that there’s sufficient space that these people could leave what’s already there,” Estabrooks said, adding that council could get advice from experts on how to show new drawings — perhaps as part of a digital display.
Moncton’s Sports Wall of Fame in the Avenir Centre exhibits plaques honouring sports achievers and contributors, but also displays photos of them on two TV screens as part of a digital slide show.
“That’s what I’m saying,” Estabrooks says. “There are ways you could do this without taking them [the drawings] down,” she adds.
“I’m not happy with this council, period,” she says.
“In my opinion, they have no idea of what else is going on in the world. It’s just all in that little, damn building down there and they don’t see beyond that building.”
Meantime, former Sackville Mayor Bob Berry also says that he wishes some way could be found to keep the charcoal drawings on display at the Civic Centre.
“I understand the space problem because I’m in and out of that rink all the time,” Berry said during an interview this week.
“I realize they’re running out of room, but you can’t take away from that charcoal drawing that’s displayed on the wall. I have really mixed feelings.”
Berry adds that displaying plaques with pictures engraved on them would help even though he still thinks the larger drawings are better.
The former mayor, who has been a strong supporter of the Sports Wall of Fame from its beginnings in 1989, wondered if some drawings could be displayed on the foyer’s end wall where chairs and tables are stacked, but he also acknowledged that might not be possible.
“That end of the room would be the only place I could see them going with a couple rows of inductees,” Berry says, adding that, at the same time, he can understand that finding more space is a problem.
“I really like the charcoal drawings,” he says. “If they came down to me and said, ‘You want to see that bronze metal plaque, mahogany plaque up there, or that drawing,’ I’d have to say the drawings.”
Mesheau hopes board might reconsider
During the council meeting on October 15, Councillor Shawn Mesheau wondered if the decision to authorize the SWOF board to replace the charcoal drawings with plaques could be delayed to allow time for further thought.
He mentioned, for example, that a digital display of the drawings could solve the space problem.
Mesheau said during an interview this week that he started thinking about digital displays when he was trying to get an alumni group going at the Tantramar Regional High School.
He said he hoped the group might raise money for some sort of display of graduating classes that people could see on entering the school.
“When I went to the Avenir Centre for the first time after it opened, I saw the Sports Wall of Fame there and I thought, ‘Gee that’s a really great idea,'” he added, referring to the TV screens showing photos of inductees.
He said he was surprised at council’s lack of interest in his suggestion for such a digital display.
In the end, Mesheau and Councillor Andrew Black voted against authorizing the SWOF board to scrap the display of charcoal drawings with Councillors Bruce Phinney, Allison Butcher, Joyce O’Neil, Bill Evans and Michael Tower voting in favour.
While he says he accepts council’s decision, Mesheau adds that he’s hoping the SWOF board will take note of how people in town are reacting.
“Hopefully, the board will look at it and hear what councillors and the public were saying and come up with maybe something that goes beyond a plaque,” he says.
For coverage of the October 15 council meeting, click here.