Carolyn Davies

Belle Vue plans discussed at public consultation meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A public consultation meeting held to discuss plans for the 200-year-old Belle Vue property saw the bulk of the discussion be on what surrounds the mansion rather than the mansion itself.

The meeting was held last Thursday night at the Libro Centre, following a separate public meeting on the Duffy’s property. The number of general public in attendance rivaled that of actual Belle Vue Conservancy members in the audience but that didn’t stop visions and ideas from floating around during the meeting.

CAO John Miceli said the town has made up concept drawings for the home and its seven-acre Dalhousie St. site but told the audience the town still wanted feedback. The concept plans call for a restored home that could be used for such things as a conference centre, outdoor gardens and lighted walking trails, a greenhouse, parking areas and a band shell.

David May takes a look at one of the renderings of what a restored Belle Vue property could look like.

David May takes a look at one of the renderings of what a restored Belle Vue property could look like.

“It’s a vision of what we thought we were going to do and what we could do but it is not etched in stone,” said Miceli.

There is a heritage designation on the facade of the building but not on the interior, but Miceli indicated that doesn’t preclude the town from trying to save portions of the interior. Architect Carmen Brunone from Architecttura Inc. pointed out that due to the numerous renovations Belle Vue has gone through in its 200-year history, a period of time had to be chosen for when the Belle Vue will be restored to. The building will look like it did in the 1920’s, he added.

“Our goal is to reproduce what is there,” added Miceli.

The town has applied for a Parks Canada grant that applies to heritage sites and due to the site having been in the top ten for endangered historical sites in Canada, Miceli believes that will lend support to the town’s grant application. The town hopes for $1 million with the Belle Vue Conservancy planning to raise another $1 million so that work on the building can be done in a substantial fashion. The overall plan, including grounds, could top $9 million.

An architecutrual rendering of the rear of the Belle Vue property, complete with revamped gardens, is shown here. The gardens were one of the items of discussion at a public meeting last Thursday night.

An architecutrual rendering of the rear of the Belle Vue property, complete with revamped gardens, is shown here. The gardens were one of the items of discussion at a public meeting last Thursday night.

“I’m encouraged to know we are probably going to know by September (about the grant),” the CAO stated. “I’m very hopeful. It is a logical choice but I don’t know what the federal government is going to do.”

Miceli added he “feels very strongly it’s going to happen.”

A suggestion to use St. Clair College students to help maintain the site was made, with Miceli adding the town has a good relationship with the college. A deal to have St. Clair College purchase the site fell through over a year ago and Miceli said the college has now gone in a different direction.

“We’re definitely going to be knocking on every door and looking at every opportunity we can get,” said Miceli.

As for the gardens, Miceli said his vision is for period gardens with Brunone adding his view that themed gardens could be placed there.

Miceli added he would like to see an entry point to Belle Vue created off of Sandwich St. S. as opposed to Dalhousie St., due to Sandwich St. being the main thoroughfare.

“We do not want to run traffic down the residential area of Dalhousie St.,” he said.

Conservancy vice president Carolyn Davies suggested a tie in with the Fort Covington property just south of the police station.

An architectural rendering of what the front of a restored Belle Vue could look like. (Special to the RTT)

An architectural rendering of what the front of a restored Belle Vue could look like. (Special to the RTT)

“I think this rivals Willistead (Manor in Windsor),” said local resident Gord Freeman.

Freeman envisioned the first floor as a conference centre with a restaurant on the second floor to support that.

“I think it’s an ideal set up for that,” said Freeman.

Family gatherings and weddings could also be held at a restored Belle Vue, Freeman continued.

“I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s a jewel. This would be at one end of town and Fort Malden at the other.”

More public meetings are planned for later this year, Miceli stated, as he said “we want to make sure we get it right.”

The town is in the midst of trying to win $60,000 through the National Trust for Canada’s contest found at www.thisplacematters.ca with the Belle Vue Conservancy also raising funds through events and the site www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

Belle Vue Conservancy presents WSO concert proceeds to Amherstburg Community Foundation

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Belle Vue Conservancy raised $5,359 from last month’s concert featuring the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s string musicians and that money has been transferred to the Amherstburg Community Foundation.

The foundation, the charitable arm of the town, received the cheque last Thursday morning with director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau and Libro Centre manager of recreation services Rick Daly accepting on behalf of the town.

Carolyn Davies, vice president of the Belle Vue Conservancy and a main organizer of the concert, thanked the WSO for coming to Amherstburg and also thanked those in the community who supported it.

“It was a sold out crowd and I was delighted the community supported it,” said Davies. “We had amazing support from our sponsors and patrons.”

Davies said the Dalhousie St. historic site has been “awaiting restoration since 2003” and believe it will be an economic driver for Amherstburg, much in the same way it was when it was originally constructed in 1816-19.

“It’s come full circle,” she said.

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy present the proceeds from the recent Windsor Symphony Orchestra concert to the Amherstburg Community Foundation last Thursday morning.

Members of the Belle Vue Conservancy present the proceeds from the recent Windsor Symphony Orchestra concert to the Amherstburg Community Foundation last Thursday morning.

Linda Jackson, who leads the conservancy’s corporate outreach, believed a restored Belle Vue “is going to become an integral to the Amherstburg community.” She believed it would drive tourism as well as attract historians and genealogists to the area.

“Let’s call it what it is,” she added. “It’s a 200-year-old national historic site.”

Jackson also pointed out the work being done by conservancy member Paul Hertel, as Hertel is researching the World War I veterans that stayed there when it was a veterans home.

“We are certainly looking forward to all of the discoveries (Hertel) is making,” said Jackson.

Rousseau thanked the conservancy for its work and for their efforts in realizing their dream of restoring the home.

“It’s very much appreciated,” he said.

The town of Amherstburg agreed to purchase the home last September.

Spring “Wine ‘n Hop” sold out, ACS plans next one for Sept. 27

 

Special to the RTT

On April 10th, tickets for the Amherstburg Wine ‘n Hop, a bi-annual fundraiser put on by Amherstburg Community Services, went up for sale.  By April 14th, all 100 tickets had sold out and a waiting list was created to keep track of those still calling for tickets.

The seemingly endless demand for tickets to this small, locally focused event has turned it into a key attraction within the town of Amherstburg, and Kathy DiBartolomeo, ACS executive director, says they still have room to grow.

“When we first hosted the Wine ‘n Hop in 2015, we knew it had massive potential,” DiBartolomeo said.  “This is the sort of event that people look forward to for months, and the restaurants do such an excellent job in consistently meeting their expectations.  It really does make a strong case for Amherstburg and the businesses here, and we’re so proud to be a part of that.”

The May 10 Wine 'n Hop being presented by ACS has sold out but the fall event is planned for Sept. 27. (Adam D'Andrea photo)

The May 10 Wine ‘n Hop being presented by ACS has sold out but the fall event is planned for Sept. 27. (Adam D’Andrea photo)

After attending the event twice previously, and purchasing tickets for the upcoming iteration, Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce President, Carolyn Davies, adds that she believes the event provides a boost to small businesses in the area.

“I think it’s a really important event for this town,” Davies said. “Not only is it a lot of fun, it supports the small businesses in the area by providing an attraction right downtown where people can peer into the windows of shops and get excited for what Amherstburg has to offer.

The 2017 Spring Wine ‘n Hop will take place May 10, and is being sponsored by John D’Alimonte and Kim Wheeler RE/MAX Preferred Realty Ltd., Dollars & Cents Investments Inc., Bornais Insurance and Financial Services and Tech-IT-Easy.  It will include food and drink samples from Dalhousie Bistro, The Cellar Resto-Lounge, Beacon Ale House, the Artisan Grill and the Fort Malden Legion.  Tickets have sold out, however interested persons can call 519-736-5471 to be put on a waiting list in case extra tickets become available.  The event will start at 6 pm, with all attendees meeting at the Legion before breaking off into groups.

The 2017 Fall Wine ‘n Hop is scheduled to take place Sept. 27, 2017.

WSO entertains sold out crowd at Belle Vue fundraiser

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Belle Vue Conservancy’s fundraising attempts took a step forward last Thursday night with the aid of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO).

The WSO’s string orchestra was at Christ Church where 135 people enjoyed the nine selections performed by the musicians.

“We’re really fortunate that everyone has backed us,” said Belle Vue Conservancy president Shirley Curson-Prue. “People are understanding what we want to do.”

The WSO string orchestra performs at Christ Church April 27. It was a fundraiser presented by the Belle Vue Conservancy.

The WSO string orchestra performs at Christ Church April 27. It was a fundraiser presented by the Belle Vue Conservancy.

As the concert approached, the ticket sales began to pick up as did the sponsorships. The concert raised over $5,350.

“The momentum is growing, which is good,” said Curson-Prue.

The Belle Vue Conservancy is attempting to raise $1 million during the first phase of its fundraising efforts as initial work has to be done to secure the 200-year-old home’s foundation, roof and eavestroughs. They are hopeful of landing matching federal grant money as well.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has raised approximately $84,500 including in-kind contributions. Their next fundraiser is the “Birdies and Bogies for Belle Vue” golf tournament, scheduled for May 13 at Sutton Creek Golf Club in McGregor. It is a 1 p.m. scramble start and the cost is $150 per person. Curson-Prue said they had about 90 golfers registered as of last Thursday night.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert April 27 as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert April 27 as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

Those interested can call Meg Reiner at 519-890-4425, e-mail Megreiner9@gmail.com or download a registration form at www.bellevueconservancy.com.

Conservancy vice president Carolyn Davies told the audience at Christ Church that their attendance “sets us on a path for the goal of restoration” and also read greetings from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, who was announced as being unable to attend due to a death in his family.

Rev. Bill Strang said there are similarities between Christ Church and Belle Vue. He said Robert Reynolds, who built Belle Vue between 1816-19, also donated bricks towards the construction of Christ Church, which opened in 1819.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert last Thursday night as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

The WSO string orchestra performed an hour-long concert last Thursday night as a fundraiser for the Belle Vue Conservancy. The concert was at Christ Church on Ramsay St.

“The ties between Belle Vue and Christ Church go back a long way,” said Rev. Strang.

The town of Amherstburg purchased the building last year for $1.1 million – $100,000 down and $200,000 paid annually interest-free over a five-year period – along with a $200,000 donation receipt. The Belle Vue Conservancy is the body attempting to raise the funds for the restoration and the public is asked to donate either through the conservancy’s website or at www.amherstburg.ca/donate.

The group also has a Facebook page found at www.facebook.com/bellevueconservancy and can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BelleVuematters.

Economic Development Advisory Committee wants council to revisit Ribfest sign issue

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s economic development advisory committee plans to appear before council to ask that the issue of the Rotary Ribfest sign issue be revisited.

The Ribfest committee, which operates under the umbrella of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg, asked for an extension from 14 days to 28 days prior to their July 7-9 event to better promote the festival but were refused at the March 22 meeting. A motion from Councillor Leo Meloche that night failed to get a seconder.

Carl Gibb, Ribfest committee chair, appeared before the economic development committee and noted the signs “are very important to us” and used the example of the Rotary Club’s recent pasta dinner to show how important signs are to them.

Without a roadside sign, Gibb told the committee that attendance dropped.

Gibb said they would put up ten larger signs around the town in the past and took them down immediately after the event. The club currently cannot have the smaller push-in lawn signs erected on homeowners’ properties as well.

“These are not ugly signs. They are not bristol board with magic marker,” said Gibb. “We spent a lot of money on these signs.”

It was “amazing” to Gibb that the push-in lawn signs are not allowed on residential property. He added they could put up signs in other communities, but not Amherstburg until 14 days before the event.

“It’s frustrating. I don’t know what we are going to do,” said Gibb. “If attendance is down, we may go to another municipality.”

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Gibb said that two weeks is “not enough” for people to be aware of an upcoming event. He said they are not trying to threaten council, but noted the committee puts a lot of time and effort planning the festival.

“If the numbers aren’t there, you can’t sustain it. That’s a fair statement and not a threat,” replied Meloche.

Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said that section of the bylaw has been in place since 2006. She noted the bylaw department is “complaint driven” and there were concerns about an abundance of signage last year with Communities in Bloom judges coming.

The town is participating in Communities in Bloom again this year. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale pointed out that Communities in Bloom and Ribfest did not occur at the same time last year.

Rubli said there were also concerns about signs for multiple events being up simultaneously.

“Because the town is blessed with so many events, there could be a lot of signs up at one time essentially promoting six different events as timelines overlap,” she said.

Meloche believed such restrictions like the town has in place limits freedom of expression and believed it should be pointed out that the town risks losing Ribfest.

Carolyn Davies, president of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and that organization’s appointee to the committee, wondered if distance between signs could resolve the issue.

“Maybe it’s a matter of limiting the number of signs,” she said.

Economic Development Advisory Committee chair Bob Rozankovic said the issue at hand was the 14-day extension.

“I support the bylaw the way it is. I support its intent,” said Rozankovic, but said the spirit of the bylaw must also be considered.

“This bylaw does create opportunities for exemptions,” said Rozankovic.

Rozankovic believed any court in the land would uphold an exemption, particularly for a worthy cause.

Davies said there was little to do in Amherstburg when she arrived 20 years ago and “by 2006, we still didn’t have very much.” Things have changed since 2006 and she believed the bylaw needs more updating, particularly since the tourism component to Amherstburg has evolved.

“I think this bylaw is archaic,” said Davies. “It needs to be redeveloped. We’re dealing with a different era than when it was written in 2006.”

The committee, led by Rozankovic, plan to appear before town council April 24 regarding extending the period for Ribfest signs to 28 days.

The Ribfest is scheduled for July 7-9 at Centennial Park.