John Miceli

Town gets update on condition of Boblo dock

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town has received an update from the federal government as it pertains to the former Boblo dock on Front Road South.

CAO John Miceli brought a report to council which stated that he was advised by William Ariss of the Real Property Division of the Central & Arctic Region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada advising the Boblo dock would not be declared surplus at this time. Miceli reported that Ariss advised the town that the department is undertaking “a review of the various wharfs in the Sarnia to Amherstburg corridor” and that upon the completion of that review, “the department will determine whether the wharf is to be repaired, removed, divested or some combination thereof.”

According to Miceli’s report: “Should the Coast Guard determine that the department no longer has an interest in the wharf, then divestiture of the site will be considered. Mr. Ariss has advised that the divestiture process of the wharf requires DFO to offer a site first to other Federal Departments and then to the Province. Mr. Ariss has also advised that it would be difficult at this point (to say) whether the wharf would be transferred to the municipality with monies associated for repairs or if the Department would look to demolish it.”

Cost to repair the pier is estimated at $579,546 with the cost to demolish the pier, including the piles, estimated at $524,807. To demolish the dock, excluding the piles, would carry an estimated cost of $337,488.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council.

“It is important for council to note that the estimates were developed on a Class D level which should not to be considered final and must continue to be refined through the design process. Class D estimates are indicative of a project being considered for budget development and place holder purposes,” Miceli stated in his report.

The CAO added it “would not be unreasonable for one to conclude” that the cost to demolish and replace the dock could be in in excess of $1 million.

Miceli said a decision is not expected before late summer or fall. He added the town is continuing to negotiate with the federal government, saying $337,000 “is the floor. I just can’t tell you what the ceiling is.”

Councillor Rick Fryer believed the dock is a great location for an outlook and for birding opportunities, adding his hope would be for the town can start putting money aside for a project involving the dock so the community can use it.

“I think this is a great opportunity for tourism for the town and for eco-tourism and sports tourism,” he said.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo questioned whether the town had public access to the dock but Fryer believed access could be looked at as part of the town’s negotiations into the site. Fryer, also chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority, said ERCA is looking at a possible lookout trail in that area.

Duffy’s demolition to start shortly

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Demolition of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn should start within the next week or two.

Town council approved the tender during its meeting Monday night with the winning bid going to the Jones Group Ltd. The total amount quoted by the Jones Group was just over $280,000 to complete the work, with that dollar figure being over $172,000 less than the next lowest bidder.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

In his report to town council, CAO John Miceli stated that the firm that performed the environmental assessment on the Dalhousie St. property provided a designated substance survey (DSS) of the property.

“The DSS confirmed asbestos, lead, mercury and silica present in different areas of the former tavern building. The abatement requirements were included in the tender specifications for all proponents,” said Miceli in his report.

The town used the firm Golder Associates for the assessment, Miceli stated, adding the town was able to renegotiate the purchase price down to $1.115 million.

If all goes smoothly and according to plan, Miceli said the demolition could start either next week or the week after.

Councillor Jason Lavigne wondered if the Amherstburg Fire Department was finished with the building, as it was being used for training purposes.

“We have pretty much used it for as much as we could,” replied deputy fire chief Lee Tome.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she appreciated the thoroughness of Miceli’s report, noting she was a critic when the report came several months ago regarding the demolition of the former AMA Arena.

Pouget noted the price difference between Jones Group Ltd. and the rest of the bidders.

“It’s such a big, big difference,” she said. “With all of the savings, we’ll be able to fix up the property much quicker than we originally anticipated.”

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Councillor Joan Courtney asked if the town had applied for any grant money for the project, including the redevelopment of the lands. Miceli said there has been one application submitted thus far, and that pertained to the removal of gas tanks from the property.

Courtney also questioned whether there had been any meetings with stakeholders. The CAO said the next steps are to meet with the community and stakeholder groups to discuss the proposals for the property. The town has floated such ideas as an amphitheatre, marina, and food truck parking among other amenities.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Miceli added he knows of one party that is interested in sponsoring riverfront development in that area.

Council had been made aware of Miceli’s concerns that the site could further decay and become a target for vandalism. He also stated in his report that demolition could have become more complex if delayed due to the ongoing construction of the neighbouring Queen Charlotte Residences.

Sidewalk repairs coming to Sandwich St. S.

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council has pre-committed $93,000 from its 2018 budget in order to replace sidewalks along Sandwich St. S. this year.

The decision came Monday night and will result in much of the interlocking brick sidewalks on both sides of Sandwich St. S. torn out and replaced with concrete sidewalks. Manager of roads and fleet Eric Chamberlain stated in a written report to town council that “the interlocking brick sidewalks were installed in the late 1980’s and are approximately 30 years old. The sidewalks are settling and have become a potential health and safety hazard thus attracting liability for the Town. The condition of the interlocking brick sidewalks has resulted in an increased number of trip and fall accidents and claims against the town. Council approved $50,000 in the 2017 capital budget for the sidewalk replacement

program. It is the intention of administration to continue the replacement of the interlocking stone sidewalks in subsequent years until all of the interlocking brick sidewalks were replaced throughout the town.”

The town has advanced $93,000 from its 2018 budget to fund sidewalk replacements on Sandwich St. S.

The town has advanced $93,000 from its 2018 budget to fund sidewalk replacements on Sandwich St. S.

Councillor Diane Pouget pointed out that downtown streets and King’s Navy Yard Park have interlocking brick pathways with the powers that be at the time thinking “interlocking brick was the way to go.” She said the thought process was it gave the town a heritage look.

CAO John Miceli pointed out there are no urban design guidelines in Amherstburg currently with such guidelines being useful to maintain a “look and feel” of the town. He backed up Chamberlain’s assessment, saying there are “a number of trip hazards” along the section of Sandwich St. S. between North St. and Park St.

With public safety a concern, Miceli said the town wants to replace those sidewalks. Thirty years is the approximate life cycle for interlocking bricks, he stated.

“What we’re trying to do is be proactive and take advantage of a really good price we got from the contractor,” said Miceli.

Additional works to the west side of the street will be done over and above what was originally planned. Giorgi Bros. Contracting put in a bid of $28,238, roughly 41 per cent lower than the next lowest bidder, Chamberlain stated in his report.

Councillor Rick Fryer said sidewalk maintenance was “a great topic” because “people like to use it against me because I was a victim of that,” referencing his 2006 injury that would result in him filing a lawsuit that has since been resolved.

Fryer questioned whether a student was sent out as there used to be to monitor and GPS any deficiencies and was told by administration that staff and students continue that process. Fryer also wondered if problems were actually being fixed in a timely fashion or whether problems have to wait for budgetary approvals. Fryer was told that once problems are identified they are dealt with.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale raised the issue of trees along Richmond St., noting that some are causing bricks to lift. Miceli said an arborist is coming in to examine those trees, adding his preference is to see trees in planters rather than in sidewalks.

The CAO added that by putting trees in planters, they could be removed in the winter allowing a more efficient operation of the town’s new sidewalk snow removal initiative.

Honeywell property to be cleared, sold off

 

By Ron Giofu

Honeywell announced last week that there will not be any activity returning to its Amherstburg plant but town officials believe that could be an opportunity for the municipality.

The remaining buildings at the site that Honeywell occupied, which is adjacent to the former General Chemical site now known as Amherstburg Land Holdings, will be razed in the coming months as Honeywell has decided to ship the work formerly done at their Amherstburg plant elsewhere.

In August 2014, production of hydrofluoric acid at Honeywell’s Amherstburg, Ontario site was suspended. Honeywell remains committed to the merchant HF market, and after evaluation has determined that all customer demand is being fully met through production facilities in Geismar, LA and distribution support at other Honeywell locations,” a statement issued by the company read.

The statement continued: “Therefore, Honeywell has made the business decision to permanently close the Amherstburg site. Honeywell will demolish all remaining buildings, perform any necessary remediation in a manner consistent with the Ministry of Environment requirements, and sell the site for commercial or industrial use. Honeywell is committed to completing demolition and any necessary remediation of the site to allow commercial or industrial reuse of the former manufacturing lands for the long-term benefit of the Amherstburg community.”

Honeywell1

CAO John Miceli believed that when the buildings still at the Front Road North property are torn down, it will make it “a clean site” better suited for redevelopment.

“I think it actually makes the site much more attractive,” said Miceli. “Before, it was limited because Honeywell’s buildings were not part of the equation.”

Miceli pointed out the property has a lot of “unique features” including its own water plant, a deep water port, rail line as well as hydro and natural gas. While the site has been used for industrial purposes, the CAO stated the town would work with interested parties on their ideas for redevelopment.

“At the end of the day, the town would be willing to work with zoning applications, if necessary,” said Miceli.

The property is continually mentioned when large parcels of land in the area are sought and Miceli added the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) also is marketing the site. He added there are no permit applications as of yet pertaining to the demolition with the town not being aware of any timeline for the process to begin.

Surcharge coming to Libro Centre users, but not in 2017

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A surcharge is coming for users of the Libro Centre but not for this year.

The surcharge, to be discussed during 2018 budget deliberations, was agreed to in concept Monday night though discussions are expected with the user groups, four of which were present during the meeting. Amherstburg Minor Hockey president Marc Renaud, Skate Amherstburg president Lynn Fox, Integrity Amherstburg Admirals owners Matt Fox and Wes Ewer and Rick Meloche, president of the over-40 men’s league, all presented to council and voiced concerns.

User groups pointed out that registration is already underway for the 2017-18 seasons and council assured them the surcharge would not impact them for this year thus meaning they don’t have to go back and adjust registration rates.

“This is for next year’s budget,” Councillor Jason Lavigne told the user groups.

In a report sent to council last November, Miceli stated “the facility has been operating on a budget that does not adequately provide for a level of service that citizens have become accustomed to and expect. Avoiding timely maintenance and inspections in an effort to stay on budget presents several risks such as loss of the facility LEED Certification, deferred and inflated ‘unbudgeted’ repair and maintenance costs, further deterioration of the facility and most importantly citizen safety.”

Libro Centre

That report called for “a full service delivery and cost analysis” to address operating costs of the Libro Centre.

Miceli’s April report recommended the hiring of a qualified refrigeration mechanic, which goes in line with recommendation put forth by Fieldcraft Engineering, the firm that reviewed the Libro Centre and its mechanical operations. That was agreed to by town council. It is expected to cost $83,000.

Fieldcraft recommended quarterly maintenance programs, building automation monitoring, training and standardization.

“The issue at hand is for council to decide if they are going to preserve the investment in Libro Facility asset and address user complaints through adopting a proactive approach to maintaining the Libro Centre as identified in (the recommendations in the) Fieldcraft report going forward, or is council going to decide to continue the existing practice and disregard user complaints,” the April report stated. “It is important for council to make this decision in the context of the November 15, 2016 report deferred by council on November 29, 2016.”

Miceli told council Monday night that they are “looking at trying to maintain a Class A facility” and feared it wouldn’t be around in ten years if it wasn’t properly maintained. He said the ratepayers are already subsidizing the facility to the tune of $1 million, or $113 per household.

The CAO said his first and foremost consideration regarding the Libro Centre is to protect the asset and said the town will work with user groups regarding the surcharge and said Amherstburg will be one of the first in the area to have such a charge.

The Admirals and Skate Amherstburg were concerned about the loss of summer ice, as ice will come out in June and July. While the town states that it will save $30,000 each month, those organizations feared damaging their programs with the Admirals noting the Libro Centre is a selling point to try and attract players to the team.

Renaud said that with about 540 children in minor hockey, a surcharge could mean big bucks. The town used the example of a $5 hourly surcharge raising $25,370 but Renaud said that could cost AMHA $15,000, or about $25 per child. Miceli emphasized no figure had been agreed upon but Renaud noted there could still be a cost to families.

Ewer said they understand money has to go back into the Libro Centre but was confident they could meet with administration, including Miceli, and resolve the ice time issue. He said they and Skate Amherstburg would like ice in the Movati pad put back in by July 20 with Pad A up and running about a month later.