By Stew Slater
A proposal to build a park for skateboarding and BMX biking next to the St. Marys Fire Hall has been scrapped in favour of a recommendation to Town Council to instead create the facility at Cadzow Park.
Meanwhile, a separate recommendation came before Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting last night (Tuesday, Oct. 2) “that a long term strategy be developed for Cadzow Pool.”
During the summer, an enthusiastically supported community X-park fundraising campaign received a big boost when supporters learned the project — with Town of St. Marys backing — was approved for a $60,000 grant from the Ontario government-funded Trillium Foundation. In preparation for applying for that grant, Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece was given a tour of a site adjacent to the fire hall on James Street South, and the St. Marys Lions Club also donated time and resources to relocate a shade structure to the proposed site from the former Central School.
However, up until a Town Council meeting Sept. 25, CAO Kevin McLlwain maintained publicly that the town was continuing a process of “due diligence” with regards to the proposed fire hall location.
It’s now clear the fire hall site is off the table, with Cadzow Park emerging as the preferred X-park location. The reasons why are revealed in information provided alongside a recommendation brought before Council for last night’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
“We must use the $60,000 by June 30, 2013,” explains the report to councillors. “Given the timeline . . . a decision on the site location for the X-park must be made immediately so that the Request for Proposal for the design and construction can be released relatively soon.”
Taken in conjunction with last night’s recommendation to develop a long-term strategy for Cadzow Pool, it appears clear there has been discussion of the X-park forming part of that plan.
“While reviewing the site location for skate parks in over 15 different municipalities, the common theme seems to be placing skateparks in parks,” the report to councillors states. “The benefits of this decision include . . . keeping recreation programs in a multi-use area while promoting a one stop for families . . . (and) enhancing the recreation opportunities already existing in a park to a broader age demographic.”
A proposed timeline is provided for the construction of the X-Park, pending approval of the final recommendation during Council’s regular meeting Oct. 23. Under the timeline, the facility would open for operation in July, 2013.
The Cadzow Pool report to last night’s meeting, meanwhile, outlined the financial returns for the facility during the summer of 2012. It revealed regular admissions revenue was almost identical this year compared to the summer of 2011, at just over $5,300, but two special programs added layers of complication to the formula in 2012. Seven sponsored swims contributed $1,081 in revenue, while evening swims resulted in a net loss of $98.
Both special programs were spearheaded by a grassroots community group, Friends of Cadzow, which formed in the wake of since-abandoned plan to close the pool permanently.
Overall, the effects of the sponsored swims as well as changes in pool operations contributed to a financial picture that was positive compared to the summer of 2011. Last year, Cadzow recorded a net loss of about $30,000; this year, that number was $25,211.
The Cadzow report explains that changes were made “to create efficiencies and savings” in 2012, including lifeguards cleaning the washrooms and vacuuming the pool. “This meant parks staff and Arena operators were not called away from their existing work to assist at the Cadzow site. Arena operators only spent 64 hours at this site this summer adding chemicals and problem solving the more complicated issues. There were no hours spent at this site by the Parks department.”