Skateboard park info session likely to open old wounds


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A public information session will be held Wednesday at the Timken Centre to unveil plans for the three potential sites for the city’s new skate park.
However, a T-J reader writes to urge one of those locations be struck from the list. Specifically, Jonas Park, which has been promoted as a skatepark venue dating back to 2003.
It is being touted along with the yet-to-be conceived Joanne Brooks Memorial Park on Inkerman Street and the Timken Centre.
Jim Collard has been a resident for more than 40 years in the Ross and Wellington street part of town that encompasses Jonas, Lydia, Verna and Barnes streets and he and his neighbours contend this quiet residential area of St. Thomas is no place to plonk down a skateboard park.

And, he reminds, back in 2001 Pinafore Park was the go-to location for the city’s first boarder park, a decision endorsed by the council of the day which established a fund of $100,000 to assemble the required bits and pieces.

City of St. Thomas environmental services move one of the features in the skateboard park onto a trailer  as the condemned park was being dismantelled and sent for recycling.

City of St. Thomas environmental services move one of the features in the skateboard park onto a trailer as the condemned park was being dismantelled and sent for recycling.


Two years later, Collard was at city hall with a petition urging council not to move forward with a plan to now locate the ramps and jumps in the Jonas Park neighbourhood.
Collard suggests the evidence is just as relevant today.
Maintenance at the Jonas Park site, about 100 feet away from neighbouring homes, would be a major concern, writes Collard.
“Would this site be cleaned up weekly or nightly? And what about washroom facilities which will have to be large enough to support unknown numbers of people and would require daily attention to cleaning and sanitary care.”
This last point is in relation to a recent comment from Ald. Mark Cosens: “Parents and their skateboarding children could come from as far as 100 miles away. Even from Quebec and the United States to attend invitational skateboarding meets.”
Collard reminds this issue has been on council agendas since 1997 and the city now has the perfect site at the Timken Centre.
“A residential neighbourhood is not the right place for such activities.”
Should make the public open house a lively source of debate on Wednesday.

HERE WE GO AGAIN
A quick perusal of Monday’s council agenda uncovers a letter from St. Thomas poet/artist Gail McNaughton pushing her vision for the hillside below the Jumbo statue.
It’s not the first time she has bent the ear of council with her suggestions for improving the vista as you enter the city from the west end.
In the past, she has been advised by engineering staff the steep slope at that location would require a geotechnical study (at considerable expense to ratepayers) to ensure Jumbo doesn’t go visiting his pachyderm pals in Lynhurst.
Her vision this time around includes a set of tracks and a train going up the hill or perhaps a waterfall.
Both would be a comfort for sure to motorists gingerly passing by below on Talbot as the train climbs above them and water tumbles down.
How ironic this letter appears on the same agenda as a report outlining the added costs associated with stabilizing the Sunset Drive slope.
A valid and necessary undertaking with a price tag in the $1.8 million range.
Surely council has better things to do than re-visiting Jumbo hill.

PAYING YOUR OWN WAY
St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce president Bob Hammersley made his pitch to council Monday to have the city serve as one of the principal sponsors for the first St. Thomas-Elgin Business Awards, a new Chamber and Elgin Business Resource Centre event.
Hammersley would like the city to support the awards presentation to the tune of $5,000, prompting Ald. Gord Campbell to argue, “We’ve just passed on to the treasury department 50 or 60,000 dollars worth of grant requests under petitions and communications and I think at some point we’re going to have to make it known that the ratepayer can only afford so many in the grant requests and I can’t support another $5,000.”
The request from Hammersley and Campbell’s honest response prompted St. Thomas entrepreneur Bob McCaig to weigh in with this observation.
“I read with horror, alarm and eventually laughter of the request by the St. Thomas Chamber of Commerce for a $5,000 grant to support free enterprise – What a farcical joke! – Our local business organization running to our municipal government asking for a handout,” writes McCaig.
He continues, “Next month the Chamber could perhaps strike a committee to complain about municipal taxes and the same people could be pressed to service to carry their complaint to city hall. Thanks to Ald. Gord Campbell who did not equivocate for even a moment – ” No, I can’t support it.”
It should be noted, Messrs. McCaig and Campbell have previously vented their frustration with each other in this corner, so this closing remark from the former almost seems out of context.
“Congratulations Gord, we’re virtually never on the same side but at least as a labour supporter you can easily recognize when business should pay its own way. I trust he will be joined by council on this and most all other grant requests.”
What warrants further investigation is the response to Ald. Cosens’ suggestion the ceremony be funded through the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
Can’t do that, warned Mayor Heather Jackson, seems the EDC is strapped and a $5,000 grant couldn’t come from that direction.
What’s that all about?

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Their objective . . . was to make sure the Elgin Military Museum did not get the Ojibwa. They basically screwed the Elgin Military Museum.”
Project Ojibwa coordinator Dan McNeil doesn’t mince his words in accusing Department of National Defence bureaucrats of costing the museum $1.5 million in federal funding.

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

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3 thoughts on “Skateboard park info session likely to open old wounds

  1. Woodstock has a skate park in one of their lovely parks and to my knowledge it hasn’t had an adverse effect on the rest of the population. These kids need somewhere to go besides an old hotel downtown.

  2. The City Council doesn’t want the skatepark at Pinafore because they know about the damage it will cause to the park. Do not create another mess like happened with the Moore Street site. The only option is beside the Timken Centre. It’s well lit, is very accessible and has adequate washrooms.

  3. Like Gord Campbell, I usually don’t have much in common with Bob McCaig’s way of thinking. I don’t always agree with Gord Campbell either but there seems to be a lot of “like thinkers” concerning the grant request for the new St. Thomas-Elgin Business Awards. They are both absolutely right. It’s just a bad idea and I for one most certainly don’t want my taxes used to fund such a request.
    As for Jim Collard…he’s right on the money too. The only place being considered for the skate park should be the Timken Center (although I personally think that Alderman Cosens’ hopes and dreams for the new skate board park are a bit “lofty” and stand about as much chance of becoming a reality as a train traversing up or a waterfall tumbling down the Jumbo hillside: -)

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