Jeff Heuchert, Stratford Gazette
A multi-use recreational space with indoor and outdoor soccer fields, a walking/biking path, and open space for vendors or festivals could all be in store for the old Fairgrounds land, based on a pair of concept drawings revealed to the public this week.
Stratford City Council declared roughly 18 acres of the property, located south of the Rotary Complex and Agriplex, surplus last October and severed the site, but retained 9.5 acres for future recreational use.
Over the past few weeks the city’s Community Services department has met with representatives from community groups that have shown interest in the using the property, including the Stratford Soccer Association, Stratford and District Agricultural Society, the Lions Club and Kiwanis Club – which already holds its annual Garlic Festival on the site.
The end result are two concept plans, created by GSP Group of Waterloo, that incorporate many of the wishes of the potential user groups but also those of the community at large, says Brad Hernden, manager of recreation and marketing for the city.
“We really tried to include as many different recreational activities as possible into that space,” he adds.
In addition to soccer fields, a path and open space, the two concept plans – which include similar features but different arrangements – include a small playground, a multi-use court for basketball or another activity, a public space with chairs and tables and a parking lot.
Both plans also have the property’s access off the Agriplex parking lot.
While it is still too early in the process to know what the cost of the project might be or when shovels could potentially hit the ground, Hernden is sure of one thing: the project will require “a huge fundraising campaign” to get off the ground.
The concept plans were to be shown to the public Wednesday evening at an open house at the Rotary Complex. For anyone who couldn’t attend, the plans are available on the Community Services website at www.stratfordcommunity.ca, and feedback is also being monitored on the city’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cityofstratford.
“The next step in the process is to poll the community and the neighbourhood that surrounds the area,” explains Hernden, who notes his department hopes to report back to the subcommittee with the public’s comments in early June.