New skate park on the horizon, but it comes with a hefty price tag


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Listen up skateboarders, city council will be dealing with a proposed new park when it sits Monday at city hall. At that time it will receive the findings of the select skate board park committee, authorized by council in April and which held its first meeting in July.
The committee is proposing three locations for consideration: Joanne Brooks Memorial Park on the former site of Northside Arena; Jonas Park on Jonas Street; and a one-acre parcel of land northeast of the Timken Centre.
Let’s look closer at these sites.

The first location is currently fenced off due to environmental concerns and is far removed from the downtown core. Although, for young people, it’s a case of have board, will travel.
Jonas Park is literally kitty-corner from the original location of the now-demolished park in the Moore Street parking lot. Certainly far more central than Option 1.
The third site evokes a chuckle because its closest neighbour could be the proposed police headquarters, although a decision on that could be years’ distant. Its proximity to the Timken Centre surely must move this option to the top of the list.
However let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
The suggested price tag for the new outdoor park would be $600,000, with the committee indicating it would raise $300,000. With development charges kicking in $96,000, ratepayers are on the hook for $204,000.
With community dollars needed for the hospital revitalization project, the CASO station restoration, the proposed St. Thomas elevated park, not to mentions United Way, Salvation Army and a myriad of charity campaigns underway or planned, how deeply can residents and businesses be expected to dig into their pockets?
The committee is seeking council’s authorization to hold a public information session at a yet-to-be-determined date.
This will be the time to challenge the creative bent of the committee and users to bring a new park to fruition in much quicker fashion than its predecessor.

A MATTER OF DETAILS
Like the ebb and flow of the Leafs’ fortunes over the last half-dozen decades, the sale of wine, beer and liquor in convenience stores has washed to the surface again.
City Scope last dealt with this in July with the release of a petition from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) containing in excess of 112,000 signatures calling for the availability of such products in convenience stores.
Association CEO Dave Bryans told us at that time corner stores in more than 200 Ontario communities too small to support an LCBO outlet or a Beer Store now are authorized to sell alcohol.
PC Leader Tim Hudak similarly noted: “I think any time you have a monopoly that means you don’t get the service (and) it’s more expensive than it would be otherwise.”
What has yet to be addressed is how the system would operate in small, independent retail outlets.
Bryans told the Times-Journal on Thursday the devil is in the details.
Who is eligible to sell alcohol, what is the criteria for training certification and what will be stocked in the various outlets.
Given the size and impressive selection available to consumers in many LCBO outlets, including Vintages in some locations, how can any but the largest of variety stores even hope to come close to stocking anything but a basic offering from the large brewers and distillers.
What about craft beers, imported wines from around the world and, from a personal standpoint only, a dizzying array of single blend malts from the likes of Islay?
Are we to replay the buzz in Alberta: less selection, more money?

TAKEN RIGHT FROM THE POLITICAL PLAYBOOK
Hospital CEO Paul Collins says he is happy with the combined city/county contribution of $7 million over a 10-year period, instead of the original $9 million figure over a five-year period.
Is he taking a page out of every politician’s handbook: test the waters with an over-inflated figure and when the furore hits a peak, settle for a decreased amount and insist that was your intent all along?
To his credit, Collins has finally acknowledged: “I think that both councils have done an awful lot of homework on this and they have so many different, important issues that they have to face across the county and the city, and we’re just one of them.”

DID YOU NOTICE
None of the amendments proposed by Ald. Tom Johnston during capital budget deliberations on Monday were seconded by another member of council?
Is there a message being delivered by his peers about his breach of trust as Ascent/St. Thomas Energy board chairman?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“I guess the thing we have to do now is we have to be the leaders that we are supposed to be in this community and demonstrate that we need to move forward, but we need the hospital to understand we do have other challenges in front of us.”
Elgin Warden Bill Walters, chairman of the joint committee established to deal with the financial contribution from St. Thomas and Elgin county to the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital redevelopment fund.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca

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One thought on “New skate park on the horizon, but it comes with a hefty price tag

  1. Regarding the skate board park…Hopefully this price tag is over-inflated too as I don’t really think we need “skate board world”, just a skate park perhaps like the one they have in Port Stanley. The rate payers portion of $204,000 seems mighty hefty when this is a project that will only be used by a select few and not enjoyed by the community as a whole. IMHO, there really is only one choice for the location. As proven in the past, skate parks seem to be vandal magnets so to even consider putting one near any residential area seems ludicrous to me, so the Timken Centre location is the only one that makes any sense, where there’s staff to keep an eye on it and pick up the constant supply of broken glass and refuse.
    As for no one seconding any of Alderman Johnston’s amendments…wise choice.

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