Some residents of Teeterville understand why Norfolk County council wants to close and sell its museum and old school house but that doesn’t make it any easier to take.
“I went to school in that building. Most of the people around here my age did too,” Edmond Deyne, 72, said in reference to what is now called the Teeterville Women’s Institute Hall. “All of us are connected to those buildings.
“They are what makes Teeterville, Teeterville.”
But the future of the structures are in question following a decision by Norfolk County. The school, which dates back to 1872, and the two-storey log cabin museum built in 1849 will be closed and likely put up for sale.
The decisions are a result of this year’s county budget deliberations, which call for an 8.4 per cent increase in residential taxes.
During the deliberations, council also voted on a number of cost-cutting measures that include, among other things, finding a buyer for the Teeterville Museum and Teeterville Women’s Institute, the former school.
As well, council voted to divest itself of the Norfolk Arts Centre in Simcoe and to eliminate the museum component of the Norfolk County Archives-Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe.
The county is also looking to identify 140 acres of county land that can be sold.
Council was looking at closing the Kinsmen Pool in Delhi but deferred a decision for a year after receiving a petition in opposition with 3,350 signatures.
Under council’s plan, money from the sale of municipal land will be used to rebuild the county’s reserves and cover infrastructure costs. Council has said the moves are necessary to address a financial crisis stemming from a growth in expenses that far exceeds its growth in revenue.
“I can see where they’re coming from,” said Deyne, who was at the Teeterville Fire Hall, who on Feb. 9 was cleaning up after a function held in the community the night before. “It probably costs them a fair bit of money to keep those buildings going and the school needs some work to bring it up to code.
“Hardly anyone uses the hall (school) anymore and I don’t know that the museum gets a lot of visitors over the summer.”
But council’s decisions are just symptoms of a much larger problem, Deyne said.
“It just seems that everything is all about Simcoe and people are forgetting about the small rural communities that make up Norfolk,” Deyne said. “It just seems like a lot of things get taken away, but very little comes back.
“Mind you we do have a new fire hall, but that was done under a different local government.”
Talking about the future of the museum leads to another conversation that irritates some Teeterville residents including Dave Smith.
For years there has been talk about repairing the Teeterville dam, but nothing has been done so far. At some point it will become too costly to fix resulting in yet another loss for the community.
“If you lose the dam, you lose the pond, you lose the wildlife and you lose the wetland,” Smith said. “I thought everyone, governments included, realized the importance of wetlands and want to protect them.”
Asked about possibly losing the school and museum, Smith said it’s a shame but a sign of the times.
“It’s getting harder and harder for small communities to maintain things like museums ad community halls. Heck, we don’t even have a corner store anymore,” Smith said.
While some appear resigned over council’s decision others have been motivated to take action.
A citizen’s group – Concerned Residents of Norfolk – has sprung up and created its own social media page to share information and opinions about council’s decisions. The Facebook group was just recently formed and has more than members.
Another grassroots group – Save Our Stories – has also been formed by citizens who are hoping to save Norfolk County’s cultural touchstones.