By Chet Greason
The decision as to where the X-Park will be built has been pushed back and will potentially be decided upon at a public meeting on Nov. 6.
Originally, the agenda of St. Marys Town Council’s meeting on Tuesday, October 23 called for a decision on whether the BMX and skate area was to be built at Cadzow Park. However, a delegation by Rev. Dr. Jerry Towne, who resides close to Cadzow and feels there hasn’t been enough discussion on the issue, helped convince Council to revisit the issue in two weeks time.
”We haven’t been consulted,” said Towne. “Personally, I feel we haven’t done due diligence.”
Despite the neighbourhood being canvassed by staff and a number of opinions gathered, (at the time of the meeting, staff’s count stood at forty-nine for the idea and thirteen against), Council decided that further discussion would be held at the public meeting on the sixth so that a consensus might be reached, especially since the Trillium Foundation, who stands to make a substantial contribution to the park, allegedly wishes to avoid being involved in controversy.
“It’s not a done deal yet,” confirmed the town’s Corporate Project Coordinator Jenna McCartney. “They want to make sure Council is completely onboard.”
“I don’t want this project put in jeopardy,” said Councillor Carey Pope, who has been one of the biggest cheerleaders and organizers behind the X-Park. “Maybe we could’ve done better public consultation, but I do not want to rock the boat with Trillium.”
Councillor Stephen McCotter felt that, after reading the agreement with Trillium, that things were not as perilous as some were saying, and that Trillium only wanted to ensure the public would be happy with whatever project the organization was funding. “They’re looking for informed public discussion,” he said. “I read it as not having a June deadline...It allows us to pause it until we have a collective agreement.”
However, Councillor Lynn Hainer pointed out that the town can only apply for one Trillium grant at a time, and that they won’t be able to apply for more until the X-Park issue is resolved.
Furthering the desire for a public meeting was a poster advertising a meeting scheduled for Oct. 20 which was accidentally put up on the town’s website, causing some confusion amongst those who planned to attend when they were told it wasn’t going to happen.
“Staff prepared two posters to outline options of collecting public feedback; one was the public meeting and the other was the consultation through email or telephone,” clarified McCartney in an interview following the meeting. Though Council decided to go with the email and telephone route, it was the other mock-up that was erroneously posted to the town’s website.
“Unfortunately, it was all a misunderstanding,” said McCartney.
Councillor Bill Osborne expressed his concern that the X-Park in Cadzow issue and the future of Cadzow Pool be kept separate at the Nov. 6 meeting. “Are we going to talk about the whole park at the meeting?
Because I think they’re two separate issues,” he said.
Pope agreed, saying the discussion should centre on the X-Park location and nothing else, but Councillor Don Van Galen felt the two issues are interrelated. “The building demolition (for the former Friendship Centre) adds another $50,000 to the park’s budget...to tear down a building which, only a few months ago, we were looking for a tenant for,” he noted.
He said he feels the public will decide what will be discussed at the meeting.
But Mayor Steve Grose wants to keep discourse on task. “I don’t see any other way to correct this than holding a public meeting, but we need to deal with the X-Park. If not, we’re going to lose $100,000’s in grant money. I’m not going to say, on Nov. 6, that I didn’t know about this. Everybody knows about this now.”
He urged the public to attend the meeting with open minds, but to stay on subject. “We need to get the X-Park done. If someone says, ‘We need a playground first,’ that doesn’t get the X-Park done.’”
Council will potentially discuss alternative locations at the Nov. 6 meeting as well, including Milt Dunnell Field, the parking lot beside the tennis courts, the PRC beside the playground, and East Ward Park.