Aldo DiCarlo

Public feedback gathered on proposal for Duffy’s land

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

With Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn in the process of being torn down, the town held a public consultation session to gauge what the public thinks of redevelopment plans.

The public consultation session was held last Thursday evening at the Libro Centre where people got a chance to view the renderings of the plans the town has developed for the waterfront property.

“Nothing has been set in stone,” CAO John Miceli pointed out, stating the purpose of the meeting was simply “the start of a conversation.”

The concept plans developed by the town and its consultant – Dan Krutsch of Landmark Engineering – were on display around the community room with a 500-seat amphitheatre, marina, boat ramp, fishing wharf, service buildings and plazas among the proposals put forth. Miceli said the town wanted to bring those plans to the public to see if that is what citizens want and if there are any changes desired to what has been proposed.

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Members of the public view concept drawings for what the Duffy’s property could look like during a June 15 meeting at the Libro Centre.

While additional public meetings are planned, Miceli said he would like to see the town move forward on the project later this year.

“My goal is to have it presented as part of the 2018 capital works budget,” he said.

Costs range from $5 million to $6.5 million and by moving along with the process, it allows the town to pursue grant funding. Final costs will be determined once all the components of the project are decided upon.

Timing for how fast the project will be completed centres around cash.

“It really is going to depend on funding,” he said.

Local resident Pat Catton questioned where boat trailers would park. While there is space for boat trailers on the drawings, Miceli acknowledged previous concerns about boat trailer parking and congestion when the Duffy’s boat ramp was open. There may be opportunities for boat trailer parking, though Miceli noted some opportunities were a bit farther away than the town desires.

“We’re hoping to hear from the boaters to hear what they have to say,” said Miceli.

A relocated Boblo ferry dock being included in the drawings was also a source of questions. Krutsch explained that moving it would allow for owner Dominic Amicone to be able to better develop his lands. The wharf would also help shield the dock from ice.

Pat Catton and Gord Freeman review drawings of the proposed Duffy’s  redevelopment last Thursday evening at the Libro Centre.

Pat Catton and Gord Freeman review drawings of the proposed Duffy’s
redevelopment last Thursday evening at the Libro Centre.

Catton wondered why the town would have to partner with a private property owner but Krutsch replied that there is no need to partner with anyone and that it was added in case some kind of partnership was of interest. Miceli noted preliminary talks have taken place with Amicone.

No programming decisions have been finalized, Miceli noted, adding his belief the development could boost the downtown core. It could act as a “festival plaza” and boost the area.

“This was the vision that allowed us to go ahead with acquiring the property,” said Miceli.

The town’s Official Plan calls for the acquisition of waterfront lands when they become available. He believes there will be at least an eight to 12 month approval process before anything could be developed.

Susan Whelan asked about the number of studies that have been done on the site, noting there haven’t been any major developments there for many years. Fuel was also used on site in the past, she added. She said she supported making the site beautiful and intertwining it with the neighbourhood but wanted assurances the land was checked out.

The land and existing buildings were assessed by Golder Associates, Miceli replied, and that the purchase price of the property was reduced to deal with some of the issues found.

“Most of the issues are in the older portion,” Miceli noted, in reference to the restaurant portion, which has not yet been demolished.

Food truck owner Carolyn Parent asked about such vehicles in the development, with Miceli saying his vision is for special events. Krutsch pointed out that could simply be one use of the site, with craft shows, tents and other events also possible.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the concept plans are the current ideas the town has come up with.

“This is the culmination of what we’ve been doing up to now,” he said.

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DiCarlo said there are limitations on what Navy Yard Park can be used for due to its passive nature and while there are events at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada, there are restrictions there too. Downtown businesses also have voiced concerns that they have difficulty pulling people from Fort Malden so having festival space downtown could translate into more businesses gaining customers.

The town wants “one fluid plan” on how to develop the area, he added. The biggest thing the mayor said he has heard is about how fast the land could be developed.

Local real estate agent Ron Deneau congratulated the town on “one of the best purchases you ever made.” He believed the land being acquired for the money the town paid for it (final price being $1.115 million) “will be looked at as one of the nicest purchases you ever made.”

Local resident Paul Pietrangelo was in favour of the development.

“I love the idea,” he said. “I think it’s beautiful.”

Pietrangelo joked that “I hope I can see it before I die.”

Noting his love of Navy Yard Park, he added the Duffy’s land would be a good complement to that.

“It’ll bring a lot of people to Amherstburg even more,” he believed.

Ribbon cutting held at SoupR Salads

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

One of Amherstburg’s newest eateries is officially open.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at SoupR Salads, with the newest restaurant specializing in – as the name suggests – soups, salads and wraps. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo officially cut the ribbon along with owners Eduard and Greta Kristafi.

Greta said they offer healthy food for their customers.

“We come in every morning and make everything fresh,” she said.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo stands between SoupR Salads owners Eduard and Greta Kristafi during the official ribbon cutting of one of Amherstburg’s newest eateries. SoupR Salads is located at 111 Sandwich St. S., in the new commercial/residential building at the corner of Sandwich St. S. and Fort St.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo stands between SoupR Salads owners Eduard and Greta Kristafi during the official ribbon cutting of one of Amherstburg’s newest eateries. SoupR Salads is located at 111 Sandwich St. S., in the new commercial/residential building at the corner of Sandwich St. S. and Fort St.

This is their third SoupR Salads location, with the other two being in Windsor. One is in the Devonshire Mall and the other is near the University of Windsor. In total, they have been in business for nine years.

“We’ve been living in Amherstburg for a few years now and we decided to bring it out to our town,” said Greta.

The new Amherstburg location has been welcomed by the community, she added.

“It’s been good,” she said of the response from the public. “We are very happy with the way things have started.”

SoupR Salads is located at 111 Sandwich St. S., in the new multi-unit residential/commercial building at the corner of Fort St. The phone number is 519-713-9229 and the hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12-6 p.m.

Fort Fun Centre should be fully operational later this year

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Fort Family Fun Centre’s plans should come to fruition by the fall, according to its owners.

The official groundbreaking for the facility was Friday morning with owners Terry Jones and Brad Hearn, their family, business associates and town officials on hand for the event.

“We’re converting something old into something new,” said Hearn, as part of the ceremony outside the facility that once housed the Verdi Club. “We think we’ve got something new for the town of Amherstburg.”

The proposed new look of what the Fort Family Fun Centre is shown above. (Special to the RTT)

The proposed new look of what the Fort Family Fun Centre is shown above. (Special to the RTT)

To symbolize the change in ownership, Hearn covered the Verdi Club logo that was on the lectern with a logo for the Fort Family Fun Centre.

The Fort Family Fun Centre currently has 40 employees and Hearn said they plan to more than double that number.

“It should be close to 100 when we are done,” he said. “We think it’s good for the town.”

The restaurant portion of the building – known as “The Barracks” – is complete as are renovations to the pavilion with other interior work to include a bowling alley, arcade, party room and laser tag arena. Hearn said the bowling alley should see work done in the next four to six weeks or so.

Other exterior work includes a go-kart track, a new façade to the building and about 200 campsites. Hearn said they plan on getting the façade work underway in the coming weeks with the overall timeline for completion of most of the work in roughly three months.

The Fort Fun Centre, formerly the Verdi Club, will have various uses. (Special to the RTT)

The Fort Fun Centre, formerly the Verdi Club, will have various uses. (Special to the RTT)

The campground may have to wait until next year, he added. Sand volleyball courts are now available.

People from Amherstburg have been loyal and are supporting their new venture, said Hearn, but added they want to be a regional attraction.

“We want to pull from all over Essex County,” said Hearn.

Hearn and Jones have long discussed creating a family fun project in Amherstburg and were presented the option of the Verdi Club property when it came up for sale.

“It’s all coming together,” said Hearn. “We just keep adding things. Hopefully we don’t run out of room.”

Jones said they’ve been talking about a bowling alley or some sort of venture for years and everything came to fruition when the Verdi Club came up for sale.

“Brad’s the best partner you could ever have,” said Jones. “He’s good with people. He likes to have fun and we like to have fun together.”

They are trying to create jobs as well as an attraction, he added, also stating they want to bring in people from around Windsor-Essex County. He said they have an “aggressive” construction schedule but that is by design.

“We’ve got to keep moving in order to keep the excitement building,” he said.

Owners Brad Hearn and Terry Jones (left) and their staff held an official groundbreaking ceremony last Friday morning.

Owners Brad Hearn and Terry Jones (left) and their staff held an official groundbreaking ceremony last Friday morning.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the location is special due to its history.

“This location means a lot to me and many other people in town,” said DiCarlo, calling it an “Italian cultural hub” for Amherstburg.

However, he praised Hearn and Jones for their vision and said it will be not only a boost for Amherstburg, but for Windsor-Essex County as well.

“We are very grateful they are creating another attraction,” the mayor stated.

DiCarlo said Hearn and Jones as well as their businesses have shown a commitment to Amherstburg through their investments and their charitable support of local causes.

“This is another example,” said DiCarlo.

The Fort Family Fun Centre is located at 689 Texas Road. Their website is www.thefortfuncentre.com.

Essex County council defers EMS report regarding Amherstburg concerns

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council wanted Essex County council to review Essex-Windsor EMS and to provide funding necessary to improve the areas that are “in need.”

However, Essex County now wants more information from the town and find out what was presented to Amherstburg council.

Essex County council deferred a recommendation at its June 7 meeting that would have county administration provide an information report to county council regarding funding and cost distribution of EMS services as well as tiered response and service levels.

LaSalle Mayor Ken Antaya sought clarification on the request from Amherstburg.

“They’re suggesting increasing regional funding and identifying areas in need?” he asked.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said “the concerns that were raised by some members of Amherstburg council were there may not be enough coverage for the amount of calls we have.”

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DiCarlo also pointed out the concerns over tiered response and the fact firefighters go out on medical calls when ambulances were tied up. Town council discussed the matter in April when Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter appeared before them with Councillor Rick Fryer wondering why all municipalities don’t use firefighters at calls, citing Leamington as an example. Fryer said during the April meeting that if there is a fee for service, all municipalities should be equal. Councillor Diane Pouget added she was “very, very concerned” about the issue and said she “didn’t think it is fair” that some municipalities are not paying for the same service Amherstburg is paying for.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos made the motion for the deferral, noting the county didn’t know exactly what Amherstburg council heard.

“It may not be an Amherstburg issue,” said Santos. “It may be a county-wide issue.”

Duffy’s demolition now underway

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

As pieces of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn fall to the ground, the town is looking ahead to the “Canuck It Up! “ festival and beyond.

Demolition started last Wednesday morning with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo getting the opportunity to take the first chunks out of the motel portion. Jones Group has been busy since then bringing down other parts of the structures.

DiCarlo noted where the town was several years ago with its financial issues but believed the Duffy’s development represents the “change and rebirth” that has been happening since.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel  portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

“This pretty much sums that up,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor didn’t downplay the impact Duffy’s had in Amherstburg during its existence but said sometimes things need to change.

“I don’t want to diminish what Duffy’s has meant to the town by any means,” he said. “It was a landmark, for sure.”

Duffy’s and its redevelopment plans are one of two major Dalhousie St. projects the town has on its plate – Belle Vue being the other – with DiCarlo stating “sometimes it’s OK to take things down, other things you keep forever.”

A concept plan the town has prepared for the Duffy’s site includes plazas, an amphitheatre, a marina and boat ramp, accessible washrooms, a fishing wharf, boat trailer parking and more.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel  portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

“We will go to the public for consultation,” said DiCarlo.

That meeting will be at the Libro Centre June 15, with the Duffy’s land being discussed from 5-7 p.m. and Belle Vue from 7-9 p.m.

There is no timeline currently established, DiCarlo added, with the redevelopment of the land depending on money. He said the town is looking at private sponsorships and funding from upper levels of government.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo sizes up the job he did while tearing down part of Duffy’s last Wednesday.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo sizes up the job he did while tearing down part of Duffy’s last Wednesday.

CAO John Miceli said while the demolition contract calls for it to last 11 weeks, he is confident the site will be cleared in time for the “Canuck It Up!” festival Aug. 5-6.

“The whole demolition schedule was set up to accommodate that event,” said Miceli.

Miceli envisioned development opportunities in that area of Amherstburg and said it will be “amazing” to look west from Gore St. and see the area opened up.

Nothing but rubble remained last Thursday afternoon after the motel portion of Duffy’s was torn down.

Nothing but rubble remained last Thursday afternoon after the motel portion of Duffy’s was torn down.

The mayor seemed to be amazed when using the heavy construction equipment, saying he appreciated the Jones Group for letting him use it. Calling himself “a machine junkie,” DiCarlo said using the excavator to knock down part of the building was something he could cross off his bucket list.

“That was a real joy for me,” he said.