MARYSTOWN, NL – As the clock wound down on 2017, the Southern Gazette spoke with Marystown Mayor Sam Synard on the year gone by and his hopes for the town in the new year.
Q: How do you feel the past year has gone?
A: The past year has been really strange for the Town of Marystown. The town council … you know there (was) a lot of internal conflicts at the first part of the year, and it really took us of track.
We didn’t get a lot accomplished the last year, very little infrastructure got completed, very little improvements to the town overall.
The economy is very weak, and council really didn’t address any of those issues because we spent too much time bickering in house about primarily trivial stuff.
The first part of the year was very complicated, very difficult, and very dysfunctional, but after the election in September, things did settle in and right now we have a council that’s really focused, cooperative and working as a team.
I think we accomplished more in the last three months than we accomplished in the last three years… (The year) started off rough but this December is ending up … a positive fourth quarter of the year.
Q: What would you say have been some of the biggest accomplishments for the town for 2017?
A: The new councillors are really focused on moving the agenda forward. Some things that have happened in the last three months, for example: we have started to meet now on a regular basis with Grieg Seafarms to try and be prepared when the aquaculture project goes…we’re meeting with the company on a more regular basis, we’re working with the company on plans to move forward.
Q: What are some of the goals that you have set for the upcoming year?
A: We’re also looking at building another industrial park somewhere in Marystown. We’ve started some preliminary decisions on that now with funders and we’ve tried to identify a large block of land to build the third industrial park. We may look at extending the Harris Drive business park in the next couple of years as well.
On the shipyard front, we’ve stayed in close contact with Paul Antle the last three months … to support him anyway we can in the successful purchase of the Marystown Shipyard. We’re rolling out the red carpet for Mr. Antle and his company to purchase the shipyard in Marystown. He has some on-the-ground experience at running shipyards and is an ideal person to buy the Marystown Shipyard. We’re working with him closely on that file.
We’ve already made a decision on some infrastructure projects. Just a few weeks ago we applied for $6 million in infrastructure funding for 2018-2019 for road work, water and sewer extension work improvements …I think we’re going to have a great 2018.
Q: Were there things you would have liked to accomplish in the past year that you didn’t? Do you intend to carry those items over into the new year?
A: We’re committed to rebuilding the tennis courts this spring and summer. I think it has been almost four years now since (residents) who enjoy the sport of tennis had a tennis court, so now we are going to rebuild two tennis courts starting this spring. We’ve already got that project well on its way.
Q: What growth areas have you seen in the town for 2017?
A: I think 2018 will be a much better year than 2017 and 2016. Kiewit has already started work on the living accommodation module for the Husky job in Argentia, so I think after Christmas that’s going to ramp up.
This time next year as we get into the depth of 2018 we’re going to see 250 people, probably 300 people working at the Cow Head site. We may see the shipyard back in operation if Mr. Antle is successful in purchasing it in the short term.
I think we’ll see Grieg Seafarms started in 2018, so 2018 is going to be a progress growth year for the Town of Marystown, and it’s really going to turn the corner on what we’ve gone through in 2017 and 2016.
With more economic development and with more people having jobs once again, we’ll see housing start to pick up … and the retail sector become stronger, so I think 2018 is going to be a great year.
Q: If you were to set a New Year’s resolution for council what would it be and why?
A: I guess after what I have gone through personally in the past, and what the town has gone through – it is very embarrassing for everybody involved. It is embarrassing for me, embarrassing for the former six councillors involved. So if I had a wish for 2018, it’s that we would continue the path that we’re going now with council, really open and transparent, reaching out to the community for direction and working really closely with staff and all the employees.
My resolution is to be more patient and work really hard with employees and staff – with management and Deputy Mayor (Gary) Myles and the five councillors, and I wish that we continue the spirit of cooperation.
This spirit of cooperation is going to make Marystown a much more progressive community, and a better community to live in, in 2018.