Centennial Park repairs to be discussed at budget, big bucks needed to fix

 

By Ron Giofu

Amherstburg town council will be considering various upgrades and repairs to Centennial Park at budget time after it received a report on the park from the director of culture and recreation.

Dean Collver presented a report to council Monday night which outlined liability concerns and recommended upgrades to the park with council referring the financial estimates to the 2013 budget deliberations.   The report factors in assessments from insurance providers, risk assessors, equipment providers and safety associations, engineers and other construction and recreation professionals.

The report identified the tennis courts and the track and field complex as the two biggest priorities for repair with estimated price tags of $150,000 and $250,000 respectively.

Collver’s report stated that two of the five tennis nets were not put up last year “due to drastic failings in the asphalt exceeded even the ability for simple repair.” He stated some of the “fissures” in the surface are more than 3.5-inches wide “and nearly as deep” which presents “issues for those even traversing the courts.

“All five courts have some measure of issues with the ground surface and this will only worsen from year-to-year,” he added.

It was also noted in the report that while “the expense of repair is significant it is the position of administration that the only other option is to close and barricade the tennis courts against further use prior to the spring of 2013. While the current use is low, based on the measurement and assessment of Use conducted in conjunction with this review, this facility represents the only lighted tennis facility in the community.”

The tennis courts have been identified anecdotally as a need within the community, he added, but “the current state of disrepair impedes the potential for growth of the community of tennis around this particular facility.”

Collver stated the main concern with the track complex is the condition of the asphalt and the sport surface that is crumbling. Upon discussions with various vendors, Collver said it was concluded that the current asphalt will have to be milled and new asphalt laid. There are liability concerns in its current form as a “recreational walking track” but the risk is lower than if it was a competition facility.

Administration is not recommending the installation of a new rubberized competitive surface, he added, as “at this time as it is exceptional to the basic intention of reducing risk and liability and serving the consistent basic need of the constituents who use the facility.”

The football/soccer field remains in relatively good shape, he stated, although it was impacted by a wet playing season in 2011. Repairs have been made, including sod to goal areas and along the centre of the field with painting of the goal posts also recommended.

The Lions’ Pool undergoes annual inspections by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit. Minor items were found during the 2012 WECHU inspection, he said, as well as during the inspection by the Cowen Risk Assessor, “and most were resolved immediately.”

Non-urgent items were identified and Collver pledged they will be corrected within the 2013 operating budget.

“Overall, the Lion’s Pool presents risks that are within the normal parameters for an outdoor pool of its age and design. Ongoing vigilance and preventative maintenance will be key to maintaining this lowered level of risk,” the report states.

It is recommended that over $10,000 of upgrades, including a new lifeguard chair and sign replacement, be included in the 2013 budget.

“The Lions’ Pool is continuing to age but poses no immediately identified threats of failure or added liability beyond the normal risk associated with a municipal pool. At a cost of approximately $26,000 per year to operate (before staff costs) the pool is a relatively low cost facility and provides consistent services. The 2012 pool offering saw increased attendance over the previous summer indicating that there is still a demand for the service,” reported Collver.

Town Logo Small-webThe four baseball diamonds “represent a benign risk factor,” the report added. Issues including the overlapping of outfield areas are of a concern with that being addressed through Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association protocols.

“They manage the use of the diamonds by their league members to avoid the potential of a game on one diamond coming into contact with a neighboring game. These protocols centre around ensuring that the age of players and the associated skill level prevent the overlap of play between

diamonds,” Collver stated in his report.

The baseball clubhouse/concession was identified as “an aging building showing signs of wear although currently it is assessed to be structurally sound.”

This year’s budget will allow for “a more thorough assessment of this building,” he added, carrying an estimated cost of $1,500.

The nets on the beach volleyball courts were not installed in the 2012 summer season due to plant overgrowth infiltrating the sand and the general condition of the courts, he noted.

“In general, the beach volleyball courts are in an advanced state of disrepair and are established based on outdated principals of construction for these types of venues. All of these factors combine to present a very high risk for injury,” Collver reported.

Council will weigh decisions including removal of the beach volleyball pits at an estimated cost of $1,000 or looking at a $50-$60,000 upgrade.

Lighting repair at the skate park is estimated at $8,000 with signage repair estimated at another $1,000. Asphalt renewal is estimated at being from $25,000 to $60,000 with a “longer term plan to be established with recommendations to come from administration in due course.” Asphalt renewal is not recommended for this year.

Collver noted that the skate park is a popular component of Centennial Park but it will “continue to be observed for risk management” due to the nature of the activity there.

The playground saw several pieces removed last year, part of a plan stemming from a 2009 review. Collver noted administration has been researching a “natural play space”concept but noted that a challenge would be to keep it within accessibility guidelines should it go forward.

The cost of remediating the track is estimated at $250,000.

The short term needs of Centennial Park indicated in this review speak to urgent issues of liability and public risk. Collver further recommended the town also gain input from the accessibility advisory committee on the plan.

Councillor John Sutton thanked Collver for the report.

“It certainly gives us a good indication of what is needed to bring the park up to speed,” said Sutton.

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