John Miceli

Swimming community wants pool, council indicates it is still on town’s radar

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of local parents spoke up about the lack of a public swimming pool in Amherstburg, but town council indicated the matter is still being considered.

Tiffany Cote and Yvette Erickson, joined by a group of local young swimmers, stated their concerns to town council Monday night. The last town council sold the southern 15 acres of Centennial Park to the Greater Essex County District School Board for the construction of a new public high school, meaning the current Lions Pool will be removed. Erickson said that was a “great disservice to our youth.”

“Selling off Centennial Park which was donated land given to the children of Amherstburg so they had a place to play and call their own without replacing what is lost is detrimental to our children. Such cuts at a time of great concern about child obesity are very short sighted and will cost more in the long run,” said Erickson. “We are asking this new town council to look again at the proposals to replace everything lost to this sale including the pool and consult widely with the people of Amherstburg on these proposals. Centennial Park has been a hub for sports for our youth. The park is always busy with baseball, swimming, track and field over the summer and football in the fall. The skate park and park equipment are also used year round for local youth in the area. The beauty of this park with all its wonderful amenities is that it is centrally located.”

Erickson said the idea of moving a pool to the Libro Centre is “short sighted” as many families believe it is too dangerous to walk there. She championed the idea of a centrally located pool in a location such as the former St. Bernard School site or Jack Purdie Park with fundraising ideas such as the parkland dedication fund, the Amherstburg Community Foundation and working with service clubs.

“There are very limited things for our youth to do and the previous council has gotten rid of a major hub. The pool provided families with low cost access to a sport and as it was a public pool those who needed (Canadian Tire) Jumpstart funding were able to use it, something a private pool cannot offer. Our children deserve more not less. We live along a river community, therefore our community should focus on water safety and how to swim,” said Erickson.

Local residents, including those with the Amherstburg Sharks swim team, are looking for a new pool to be built in Amherstburg now that the Lions Pool is closed. The Amherstburg Sharks swim meet is pictured.

Cote expressed concern over families leaving Amherstburg to find a place to swim.

“The current pool was built on donated land and the money to build the pool was raised by the community. Therefore, money made from the sale should have been earmarked to relocate all amenities lost,” she said. “If a 25m pool is built, provincial swimmers can use their times from swim meets towards provincial meets. It could also be made into a fully accessible pool, one that no other municipality has.”

“I think it’s safe to say we have not forgotten about a pool,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, stating that it is still under consideration by the town.

Councillor Peter Courtney said he supports the idea of a new pool in Amherstburg and that the community supported the Lions Pool.

“It should be replaced,” said Courtney, adding that they should “fast track” the plan.

“I think our kids need a pool,” added Councillor Donald McArthur. “I think we need to find a way to make that happen.”

Councillor Michael Prue said he was intrigued by the parkland dedication fund and wondered how much money was in it. Treasurer Justin Rousseau said it currently has over $2.1 million.

CAO John Miceli said costings have been done with a new outdoor pool estimated at $1-2 million while an indoor pool would be $7-8 million. An indoor pool, should council approve one, would be at the Libro Centre to take advantage of the mechanical systems there, he added.

Miceli added that he and DiCarlo “have had discussions with a third party provider” about a new Amherstburg pool.

Town to pay out nearly $800,000 in severance after council agrees to pay officers

 

 

By Ron Giofu

Town council has mandated that two police officers not accepting jobs with the Windsor Police Service and leaving the profession will in fact get severance.

Amherstburg Police Services Board chair Bob Rozankovic told the River Town Times that he had received an e-mail from CAO John Miceli earlier in the day advising that is the direction that he was given by town council. One of the officers involved left Dec. 22 and the other Dec. 27, thus they didn’t stay until Dec. 31 and that is believed to have prompted the controversy.

Town council met in-camera for roughly 90 minutes Dec. 19. Following that meeting, Miceli told the media he had received direction from town council.

Rozankovic said when he received word the next morning, he was not surprised.

“I got the communication from the CAO this morning that he had been ordered to pay out the severance as per the Amherstburg Police Services Board’s direction,” he said. “The story had been written. We knew what the end result was going to be.”

Rozankovic said he had learned earlier this week that severance payments were not going to be paid to two of the three people not accepting the job offers from Windsor. The civilian member was scheduled to receive payment.

“At that point, I contacted certain members of council and asked them to call a council meeting,” said Rozankovic.

Rozankovic said board representatives and members of the Amherstburg Police Association would attend if there were questions, with the board being represented by himself and the association by Const. Shawn McCurdy and Const. Steve Owen. None were part of the in-camera meeting and stayed at town hall until its conclusion, though no member of council or administration asked questions of them.

“Council had it well in hand and understood things,” said Rozankovic, adding “the board was never unsure of its legal position.”

The conclusion that council arrived at was a relief, he said

“We are glad it was done before the holidays so everyone could enjoy it,” he said. “Everyone wanted to have a good Christmas.”

Rozankovic estimated the total amount to be paid to be $800,000, with about $679,000 being severances to the officers. The other amount is due to top-up pay, benefit premiums and other expenses, he indicated.

“The board feels vindicated in that we’ve spoken the truth from when the process started earlier this year,” he said. “From the start, we’ve said between $0 and $2.4 million with the final amount being dependent on the what the officers elected.”

When word that the severances were ordered to be paid, the RTT left a pair of voicemails for Miceli but they were not returned as of press time.

According to AM800 News, Miceli said it is his job to make sure these kinds of issues are raised before council.

“In regard to those two individuals, if they left the organization prior to Dec. 31, if they were actually eligible for severance because the collective agreement still runs until Dec. 31,” the CAO told the Windsor radio station, adding that final amounts will be determined by the employment records of the officers.

Miceli also told AM800 the outcome was better than he anticipated.

“The police board was suggesting anywhere north of $2 million so it’s a significantly less amount, the contract’s still going to save the taxpayers of Amherstburg millions and millions of dollars,” he said.

There was considerable debate before going in-camera at last Wednesday afternoon’s meeting. Town council actually rejected the initial motion to go in-camera.

Councillor Patricia Simone suggested a public meeting on the concept of severance with clerk Paula Parker stating that while a meeting with general information was possible, she cautioned that the town would walk a “slippery slope” by going that route.

Councillor Donald McArthur said people were contacting him and he had no information to give them at that point.

“It’s very difficult to navigate this without the information,” he said.

Miceli told council before they approved the second attempt at going in-camera that “we are at a difference of opinion” on the information that was presented. He stated that he wanted an opportunity to present his information, stating at that point that council had only heard one side of the story.

 

New roof coming to town hall

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A portion of the roof at town hall will soon be replaced.

Town council authorized administration to proceed with repairs to the area of roof that covers the lobby, the administrative areas and council chambers. Buckets are regularly in the lobby of town hall collecting moisture dripping from the roof with a smell now noticeable as well.

The cost will be in the area of $72,744 and be a capital over-expenditure funded from current taxation.

According to a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) John Miceli, the roof of town hall began to experience “areas of failure” as far back as 2014. Temporary repairs, which totalled approximately $7,000, were made at that time to extend the life of the roof. The roof began to experience several leaks this past summer and mitigating measures to extend the useful life of the roof were unsuccessful, Miceli reported.

The CAO stated in his report that Empire Roofing Corporation was engaged to perform a detailed inspection of the roof to determine whether the roof should be repaired or replaced.

Town council has authorized over $72,000 in repairs to a portion of roof at town hall.

The area that is being replaced, referred to in Miceli’s report as “Area A,” will see the roof receive a new vapour barrier, rigid insulation and a reinforced TPO membrane that will enhance thermal protection and extend the roof protection for 20 years with warranty.

“The roofing membrane in Area A has severe signs of aging and the roof membrane is separating at the seams allowing moisture to enter into the roofing system and into the building,” Miceli’s report states. “In addition, there are areas throughout Area A of the roof that have significant standing water.”

The present condition of the roof has resulted in health and safety concerns for staff, visitors and public surrounding the lobby, public washrooms, hallways and council chambers, Miceli wrote in his report, which also acknowledged the “nuisance smell in the lobby that has become problematic for staff having to work in or pass through the area and the areas adjacent to the lobby.”

Replacing the roof was the option the option council chose, though a repair option valued at approximately $12,000 excluding HST was presented. However, that option, according to Miceli’s report, did not address the thermal considerations, may not significantly extend the useful life of the roof and was not warrantied. The repair option would have fixed seams that were undone and areas where the roof had blistered.

“The roof replacement would be warrantied and create a water tight solution for the main area of the facility and will extend the useful life over the main area of town hall for approximately 20 years,” Miceli noted.

 

Council looking at setting up committees, bringing back some former ones

 

By Ron Giofu

 

As council is new, so too are the committees being formed.

The 2018-22 town council held its first business meeting Monday night and started the recruitment process for some of the committees that will be formed. Administration was authorized to seek members for the accessibility advisory committee, the committee of adjustment, the Co-An Park committee, the drainage board, the fence viewers committee, the heritage committee, livestock evaluators, parks and recreation advisory committee, the property standards committee, the seniors advisory committee and the mayor’s youth advisory committee.

The last two are new committees but the mayor’s youth advisory committee was one that drew some particular attention. Councillor Peter Courtney said with The House Youth Centre in place, he didn’t want the town to interfere with that but manager of recreation services Rick Daly said the committee would engage with youth at The House and others in town and gather their opinions.

Councillor Donald McArthur envisioned the committee and the youth working “in tandem” and that the town needs “to go where they are” to gather their opinions.

The economic development and finance committees appear to be making a comeback after being dissolved by the last council. Councillor Michael Prue believed it would “not be a bad idea for the town” and that a committee of citizens would “be an enormous benefit as we try to bring business to town.”

Prue, who noted his campaign involved economic development, believed citizens should have a say in how the town is developed and that includes looking at potential industrial sites as the former General Chemical property and lands on Alma St.

Administration will bring back a report on reforming the economic development committee as well as terms of reference. Courtney asked for similar consideration on re-implementing the town’s finance committee.

The names of Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche and Ron Sutherland were put forth to the Essex County striking committee for consideration as the town’s representatives to the Essex County Library Board. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, who missed his third straight council meeting Monday night, was re-appointed to the Essex Powerlines board of directors. Courtney was appointed to the Essex Region Conservation Authority with the town to advertise for a layperson as the second representative.

Meloche was also named to join DiCarlo on the Amherstburg Police Services Board for the balance of the year but council shot down any notion of advertising for a layperson since the board is being abolished Dec. 31 at 11:59 p.m. due to the switchover to the Windsor Police Service.

“It’s not practical to advertise for the (layperson) position for 20 days,” said Prue.

Courtney wanted to keep current APSB chair Bob Rozankovic in place for the balance of the term and also didn’t want to advertise for a layperson as it should “stay as it is.”

“It seems absurd to me,” he said of seeking another layperson to the board.

Councillor Patricia Simone questioned what will happen with issues the board is facing including a human rights tribunal.

“I’m not sure what would happen with issues still up in the air,” said Simone.

CAO John Miceli said the severance issues “we believe have been resolved” and that other matters such as human rights issues, given as there will be no board, will “by default fall to the town.”

New town council sworn in at inaugural meeting

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The new town council is officially on the job.

The Town of Amherstburg held its inaugural meeting for the new council with all seven members taking their oaths. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was sworn in for his second term with Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche also being sworn in again, only this time in a new role as he was a councillor from 2014-18.

The five new councillors also were sworn into office with Peter Courtney, Donald McArthur, Michael Prue, Marc Renaud and Patricia Simone now officially elected officials in Amherstburg.

DiCarlo said “it’s a bit of a relief,” as “there’s a weird limbo from the day you find out you won to the day you are sworn in. Tonight is the night that makes it real for everyone.”

Calling it a “far cry from where we were four years ago,” DiCarlo said he likes who he will be working with.

“I’m very happy with the new council,” he said. “I’m very excited to be working with them. I think we’ve got a great new council. With the new council comes new ideas and perspectives. I think it’s going to work out really well for the town.”

The inaugural meeting for the 2018-22 town council was held Monday night at the Libro Centre. Front row (from left): Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche and Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. Back row (from left): Councillor Donald McArthur, Councillor Michael Prue, Councillor Patricia Simone, Councillor Peter Courtney and Councillor Marc Renaud.

There will still be tough decisions to make, DiCarlo pointed out, but “we’ll work through it.” Immediate goals will be to get some of the recently announced projects moving such as the hotels and the condominiums, something the mayor said is “very big news for Amherstburg.” He added that a business owner told him of the hotels that “you can’t build that thing fast enough.”

“I think we need to get some of the good news projects under our belt,” said DiCarlo.

There are also bylaws and procedures that still have to be updated with 2019 budget deliberations also looming in the new year.

Long term goals include upgrading roads and infrastructure, he said.

“Roads and infrastructure are going to continue to be a challenge for us,” DiCarlo stated. “I always hate passing the buck and I’m not going to in any respect, but I want residents to know that we are not alone with regards to infrastructure.”

DiCarlo said that many municipalities across the province are facing similar challenges and that with the current Progressive Conservative government, money may not be flowing as much as it once did to municipalities.

“We’re not sure how much government money is coming our way,” he stated.

Meloche said “it feels great” to be sworn in as the town’s new deputy mayor, noting that he likely wouldn’t have thought he would be in that spot four years ago.

“Hard work has got me here,” said Meloche. “I’m looking forward to working with the new council.”

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo (left) is presented his gavel by clerk Paula Parker as CAO John Miceli observes. The 2018-22 town council was sworn in Monday night.

The 2014-18 council “paved the way” for the 2018-22 council, he believed, and made a lot of progress in Amherstburg.

“I think the new council will continue the momentum, continue the progress and continue to show that Amherstburg is a good place to live, work, raise a family and visit,” he said.

Meloche is a new member to Essex County council and he said he has been through an orientation meeting there and has also had one-on-one meetings with the two candidates vying to be the next warden – Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara. He also met with county administration.

“There’s an education process with regards to roads and the direction the county is going the next four years,” said Meloche. “It’s an exciting time for me.”

Deputy Mayor Leo Meloche is sworn in Monday night by clerk Paula Parker. Meloche will also join Mayor Aldo DiCarlo on Essex County council.

Meloche also thanked his supporters.

“Thank you to all of the people who put their trust in me Oct. 22,” he said.

CAO John Miceli addressed the crowd at Monday night’s inaugural meeting at the Libro Centre, noting that the new council has taken on “a very, very large responsibility, a responsibility that can’t be taken lightly.”

Amherstburg is rich in history, culture and tradition, said Miceli, and it is not an easy task to be an elected official. He said administration will support the new council and called for the community to support them as well. Miceli noted that the council members are also members of families and that they all want to make the town a better place.

“You cannot make progress without making decisions,” he said.

Councillor Peter Courtney puts his arm around his mother Joan following Monday night’s inaugural meeting of town council. Peter was sworn in as a councillor just days after his mother’s term as a councillor ended. Joan was a member of town council from 2014-18.

Clerk Paula Parker, who officially swore in the new council members, said there will be difficult times and there will be criticism levied by members of the public, but she pointed out public service is also gratifying. She said some decision of council will not be popular, but there will be successes that will be rewarding.

“Leadership is not about the next election,” said Parker. “It is about the next generation.”