John Miceli

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.

 

 

Sidewalk snow removal gets passing grade from council members

 

 

By RTT Staff

 

The initial year of the town’s sidewalk snow removal program has received positive feedback from council members.

Councillor Rick Fryer, the liaison to the Amherstburg Accessibility Advisory Committee, believe the program went well since it was initiated with the committee also being “very, very supportive” of the initiative.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo agreed, saying he also heard “very little negative feedback” on the sidewalk snow removal program. He noted it is a positive program for seniors and those with disabilities.

“It’s a welcome service,” added Councillor Leo Meloche.

(Photo taken from Town of Amherstburg advertisement)

(Photo taken from Town of Amherstburg advertisement)

However, it was noted that in some areas of Amherstburg, there was damage to some lawns as the snow removal machine chewed up strips of grass and dirt on residents’ properties.

CAO John Miceli pointed out the sidewalk snow removal project was a pilot project and said they will find ways to try and make it better. He urged the public to bear with the town and allow for further enhancements to be made.

The town agreed to institute the pilot project in January. In all, Amherstburg has 58 kilometers of public sidewalks with the goal being to allow the town to be in a better position to defend itself in case of liability.

The town had previously been clearing sidewalks along Front Road North while others areas were done on a complaint basis.

Boblo dock continues to cause concern for council members

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The condition of the former Boblo Island dock on Front Road South continues to be of concern to members of town council.

Councillor Diane Pouget brought forth concerns from residents in the area, noting the decaying dock was of particular issue during recent wind storms.

“During the last wind storm, they couldn’t believe the roof didn’t come off,” said Pouget.

Pouget, also a member of the town’s parks committee, said the dock is of interest to that group as well. She said both residents were willing to come before town council with their concerns if that would be of any assistance to getting the problem resolved and that the parks committee is willing to help as well.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council. The town will reach out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to explain the issues the town has with the dock.

The current state of the former Boblo ferry dock is of concern to town council. The town will reach out to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to explain the issues the town has with the dock.

CAO John Miceli said he received an e-mail from the Department of Oceans and Fisheries prior to the April 10 council meeting but did not have time to read it prior to the meeting that night. He said he would read what was stated and report back to town council.

A meeting is needed on the subject, believed Councillor Rick Fryer, and suggested the Ministry of Natural Resources be involved as well. He said material and debris is going upstream.

“It’s circling back in the bay there and landing on people’s properties,” he said.

Fryer, also the chair of the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA), said that agency is looking to construct a “viewpoint” and also said it could make a good fishing pier for Amherstburg residents. He wondered if council would be interested in working towards such a project.

Miceli said the dock is failing due to neglect by the federal government and questioned whether using town money was a solution. He suggested consulting further with the federal government to see what they will do to repair the former Boblo dock.