By Stew Slater, Staff reporter
Grassroots efforts to envision a future for Cadzow Park — either with or without an outdoor pool — are in their infancy, as St. Marys Town Council and others in the community work to understand the implications of a recent reprieve from closure for the pool.
An informal group called Friends of Cadzow, which spearheaded opposition to a 4-3 vote by Council in February to cut the pool from the 2012-13 budget, aims to become more formal by holding a meeting tonight (Wednesday, May 16).
According to group member Mary Smith, Friends of Cadzow “is just getting established” and, so far, has no official spokesperson.
Smith added in an email to the Journal Argus, however, that “this group would like to work to draw attention to the advantages of this historic outdoor pool and to enhance the enjoyment of the pool and the park this summer and into the future. The aim is also to work cooperatively with other interest groups and (Town of St. Marys) Recreation staff to achieve this goal.”
In addition, even without a formal structure yet in place, Friends of Cadzow has established enough of a reputation that it is already the planned beneficiary of at least one fundraising event. The newly-opened St. Marys office of Sun Life Financial, located at 26 Wellington Street South, will host a barbecue on Satur-day, May 26, as a means of introducing its financial advisors to the community. And Friends of Cadzow will receive the proceeds.
The decision to close Cadzow was reversed in April after it was revealed that the Town would have to pay back a substantial portion of the funds received three years earlier as part of a provincial government grant program for upgrading recreational facilities.
At a regular meeting of Council Tuesday, May 8, CAO Kevin McLlwain said the final year during which the Town must comply with this condition is 2015. He added that it may be possible to “repurpose” the pool before that time and still be in compliance, but only if an application is made to the grant review committee — including ample evidence that any altered facility still fits with the intent of the program.
Councillor Bill Osborne cautioned, however, that Council shouldn’t necessarily get caught up in the idea of not changing anything before 2015 — or even of not paying back some of the grant money.
“You sit down, you calculate it out, and you decide if there’s an optimum point” where the pool could be shut down but it still makes financial sense to “repurpose” the facility into something that benefits a greater number of citizens.
Contacted after the meeting, Osborne said he hasn’t yet received the go-ahead from a citizen who has an idea that will do exactly that: benefit a greater number of people through an altered use of the outdoor pool area. But he stressed there are valid ideas in the community that would involve Cadzow’s closure, and people should be open-minded about them.
“I just think that the repurposing option is worth looking at, along with other options,” Osborne told Council.