Duffy’s

Demolition resumes at Duffy’s site after delays

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Delays have occurred in the demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn but the town’s chief administrative officer states the goal is still to be able to use the site during the Canuck It Up Festival.

Crews could be seen at points last week working at the site as demolition appears to have resumed.

CAO John Miceli said there were issues that caused the demolition to be delayed. One of the issues was a motorcycle crash that injured Jones Group owner Terry Jones.

A Jones Group excavator was seen working at the site of the former Duffy’s Motor Inn Monday morning. Demolition had been delayed at the site but has now resumed.

A Jones Group excavator was seen working at the site of the former Duffy’s Motor Inn Monday morning. Demolition had been delayed at the site but has now resumed.

“We are working with the Jones Group to provide us with a revised schedule as there was a couple of things that did delay the project,” said Miceli. “The first was Terry’s untimely accident and the second was an order that was issued to the Jones Group by the Ministry (of Labour) which has subsequently been lifted.”

Miceli pointed out the Ministry of Labour “has some overarching powers and on this project was seeking written protocols on the demolition process. Unfortunately this  was complicated from a timing perspective with Terry’s untimely accident and has caused some delays.”

The CAO added: “I have been advised by the Jones Group that they will be working diligently to make up time so that we can have access to the site in time for Canuck it Up. I know that the Jones Group knows how important this festival is for the Town and they want to deliver for us.”

The Canuck It Up Festival is Aug. 5-6.

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.

PowerPoint Presentation

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.

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.

Warden promotes collaboration at recent luncheon

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The tenth annual Warden’s Luncheon was held recently with collaboration being a major focus.

Warden Tom Bain addressed the crowd at the Ciociaro Club with the event being presented by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Bain, also the mayor of Lakeshore, noted that he was moved after hearing a presentation at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association Conference.

“The presenter was Doug Griffiths, a former elected official at the municipal and provincial levels in Alberta, who now specializes in providing strategic community development advice to governments, not-for-profit organizations and even private sector companies. The name of his presentation was ‘Thirteen Ways to Kill Your Community.’”

Bain said that Griffiths “provided inspiration” on how communities can work both independently and together to build stronger, more resilient communities.

“We cannot, or should not, depend solely upon senior levels of government to make our community successful,” said Bain. “Governments will change, priorities will change, philosophies will change and programs and funding will change. What remains constant? What we have to offer locally remains constant — our people, our assets and our resources.”

The warden said that the people of Essex County continually show the ability to deliver “world class solutions” to opportunities or adversity that the region has faced.

“It remains our collective responsibility, working collaboratively, and even on occasion in competition with each other, to make Essex County a pre-eminent destination to live, learn, work, play, invest and visit,” said Bain. “Ideas must continue to be exchanged and nurtured for norms to be poked at and success achieved.”

Essex County will spend $40 million this year to expand and/or maintain the county’s road network, Bain stated. The county is also contributing towards the proposed new mega-hospital project and is working on the SWIFT project, the latter being one to bring fibreoptic Internet service to the region. The county is also committed to helping the most vulnerable in each of the seven communities, providing resources to ensure Essex-Windsor EMS can meet their needs, and supporting physician recruitment.

Bain also highlighted “strategic investments” that either have or will be made to “improve the lives of residents.” He picked out at least one for every county municipality with the warden mentioning Amherstburg’s purchase of both the Duffy’s and Belle Vue properties. Bain said the “key strategic acquisitions of the Belle Vue House and the former Duffy’s Tavern will allow Amherstburg to continue to showcase and commemorate its rich history and sense of place.”

“The role of government is to develop the foundations for communities to build upon. However, we need to be keenly aware that constructing these foundations is not accomplished in a sprint,” the warden continued. “Some will say it is a marathon. I tend to liken it to a relay race in which the baton is constantly passed along.”

Teamwork is “essential” to the prosperity of every community, Bain stated.

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“This may sound silly, but to preserve the status quo, that is keeping what we cherish as a community, we must be prepared to allow and embrace change,” said Bain. “Without change, our status quo is at risk. We must be truthful to ourselves by ‘connecting the dots,’ by trying to understand and appreciate how decisions and actions of today will affect the aspirations of tomorrow.”

Retaining youth is important, he believed, but said today’s young people are convinced by deeds, and not words.

“If our community advertises it is prepared to train, encourage, mentor and connect, we best be

prepared to deliver. Actions will speak far louder than words,” said Bain. “As change permeates our community, one of the most important changes we can collectively make is one of attitude. New ideas, new approaches and new paradigms are likely to make us uncomfortable. We will need to welcome and support the new found creativity and innovation our youth are sure to bring.”

Furthering his theme of collaboration, Bain said that “borders shouldn’t be used to keep us apart” and that “we live in a regional economy with many sub-components.” He noted Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) is working to highlight the area and its attractions and the the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) also has several projects on the go for 2017, including the official opening of the Cypher Systems Greenway that connects Essex and Amherstburg.

Bain did see “storm clouds” on the horizon, due to positions taken by U.S. President Donald Trump that include a border tax on imports into the U.S., an impending renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an “America First” policy, particularly with respect to the auto industry and “a general thickening of the Canada/U.S. border, slowing the flow of goods and creating confusion for local residents working in the U.S.”

“Changes to our trading relationship with the U.S. are no doubt coming, with the nature, extent and timing yet to be determined,” said Bain. “Both the Canadian and Ontario governments continue to work closely with their U.S. counterparts to demonstrate the substantial mutual benefits and value that accrue from Canada/U.S. trade. The impact upon our local economy remains to be seen.”

Windsor-Essex has “sturdy foundations” and said the area’s business community is innovative, adaptive and creative.

“If I know anything about Essex County and its residents, it is that what at first may appear to be a problem will quickly be converted into a new opportunity,” said Bain. “Through teamwork, embracing our youth, and welcoming fresh, new ideas, I have every confidence that Essex County determination, attitude and passion will turn challenges into silver linings, and not allow silver linings to become problems. The biggest misstep we can make is to allow possibility and potential to slip through our grasp.”

 

 

CAO outlines town’s economic development goals at ACOC awards

 

By Jonathan Martin

Amherstburg’s CAO has outlined the town’s conceptual plan for the site of the former Duffy’s Tavern and Motor Inn and also talked about the Belle Vue property.

Addressing a dining room full of local business owners at Friday’s 2017 business excellence awards, CAO John Miceli also went over how council plans to improve the town’s infrastructure.

The Town of Amherstburg closed on the acquisition of Duffy’s Feb. 14. According to Miceli, the town issued a tender for the site’s demolition March 28. He said the town hopes to have the land cleared of buildings by mid or late June.

This spring, Miceli said town hall plans to hold public consultation meetings to “confirm the community’s wishes as it relates to the Duffy’s site.”

Miceli said the estimated budget for the development of the project is $6 million.

“This, friends, is exciting,” he said. “It will be the premiere community gathering place in the region.”

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Belle Vue is considered a “crown jewel” of Amherstburg, says CAO John Miceli

As it stands, the plan includes a central plaza to accommodate events, a wharf to dock ships, fishing spots, a boat ramp, a service building with washrooms and concessions, an event area with supporting infrastructure and a waterfront amphitheatre.

Miceli added, “I believe that, should we develop the conceptual plan as tabled, council and this community will have a waterfront unmatched to anyone in this region and our waterfront will serve as an economic engine for our community.”

Belle Vue will also be an “economic engine,” he said. The restoration of the 200-year-old town-owned mansion on Dalhousie St. will cost in the neighbourhood of $3 million with it being about $9 million to develop the entire property as proposed by the municipality.

“Belle Vue, in my opinion, is a crown jewel of this community,” the chief administrative officer told the crowd of nearly 200 people at Pointe West Golf Club.

Miceli pointed out the Belle Vue Conservancy is in the process of fundraising with a goal of $1 million.

He said that town hall is in talks with consultants about the creation of a community improvement plan (CIP) and the establishment of urban design dialogues.

A CIP is a municipal planning and development tool put out by the provincial government. Ultimately, its implementation would allow the town to offer tax incentives to assist in the development of properties within the area designated by the plan.

“Our goal will be to provide initiatives that will assist in creating a climate that will result in a new hotel,” said Miceli. “A new hotel in the town of Amherstburg. That is what your community wants; that is what your council wants to deliver.”

Miceli also spoke about phase 8b of Kingsbridge, referring to a zoning by-law that was passed March 20 allowing 55 single-family dwellings to be developed east of Knobb Hill Dr. and north of McLellan Ave.

He said Meadow View Estates, set to be built on the corner of Simcoe St. and Meloche Rd., will be developed in phases and result in an additional 142 residential units.

“The town has taken steps to improve our relationships with developers,” Miceli said. “We are now working together to make Amherstburg a community of choice for development. As you know, without development we can have no growth and without growth we cannot sustain our current service levels.”

PowerPoint Presentation

The town’s concept plan for the Duffy’s property was discussed by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) John  Miceli as part of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards. The banquet took place Friday night at Pointe West Golf Club.

The town has capacity at the new wastewater plant for approximately 50,000 people, he said.

Miceli reminded listeners that the town is in the process of collecting data related to internet services through a survey that can be accessed on the town’s website. The information will be used “to apply for grants and hopefully build a business plan for council to consider” regarding the improvement of rural internet infrastructure.

As he stepped down from the podium, he challenged the local business community, asking them what they thought they could do to “to seize their opportunity to create economic development in this community.”