Council tabs Leardi Law Firm to assist in PARC review

 

Amherstburg town council

Amherstburg town council

By Ron Giofu

Town council has approved spending $12,000 in the fight to preserve General Amherst High School by hiring a local law firm.

Council approved the hiring of the Leardi Law Firm and pre-committed an upset limit of $12,000 to the 2015 budget to engage the firm. In approving the unsolicited request from the law firm, town council also waived the rules of its procurement policy.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he has spoken to Anthony Leardi on several occasions and stated “it is important to have someone of Mr. Leardi’s talents to champion the issue forward.

“He’s very knowledgeable about this and very passionate,” said Meloche.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said the future of the school ties into the economic development of the town of Amherstburg.

“It is very serious,” he said. “If the school goes down, we could end up who knows where in the county.”

DiPasquale said the $12,000 is “money well spent,” a statement echoed by Councillor Diane Pouget.

“I think it’s really prudent for us to save the school and the heartache to go along with it,” she said, adding Leardi should appear before council before anything is finalized so council can approve his plan.

Administration has been tasked to help follow the issue but Councillor Rick Fryer believed it would be better to sole-source the matter and said he was fine with waiving the procurement policy.

“Time is of the essence,” he said. “I think it’s money well spent.”

Leardi was not in attendance at Monday night’s meeting but as part of a two-page letter to the town, he stated his firm proposes “to assist the Town of Amherstburg by developing and executing an innovative plan to achieve the town’s strategic objectives which, in this case, include preserving General Amherst High at its present location, or a new location within the town’s settlement area. The development of the plan will include stakeholder and partner consultation which will include the Council of the Town of Amherstburg. Delivering the plan will involve a multi-prong approach including direct presentations to the PARC and direct communication with the Board, and other bodies which can assist in achieving the strategic objective.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was the lone dissenter, but said it had nothing to do with Leardi or his firm. He feels council is “passing the buck” on the matter and that it is that body that should be dealing with it directly.

“We are elected to address issues like this,” he said.

DiCarlo noted the town’s financial issues and also pointed out there is an elected trustee in Ron LeClair  who is also fighting on the town’s behalf.

“It’s obviously a very serious issue for us,” said DiCarlo.

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