Lions Pool

Councillor wants updates on Centennial Park baseball diamonds and Lions Pool

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

With budget season underway and baseball and swimming to follow, a town councillor is wondering about the status of some recreational amenities.

Councillor Peter Courtney wanted a report from administration on the status of the pool and baseball diamonds and said the user groups want to know what the “end goal is.” Courtney also asked for information about prospective locations for the amenities as well.

“This seems to be in limbo right now,” said Courtney.

Courtney added that “there’s been no foresight” regarding the loss of park infrastructure and wanted to know the plan to take care of user groups.

CAO John Miceli said it would be difficult for him to compile a report in time for the next town council meeting. He said at this point, he could only make recommendations pertaining to possible locations at this point.

“I can assure you there is no provision in the budget for that,” he stated.

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.

Miceli said there is a provision in the 2019 town budget for a master study at the Libro Centre to go over what specific components could be featured at the site. He took exception with implications there was no foresight by administration.

“To say we have had no foresight, I strongly disagree with that,” he said.

Miceli added the Parks Master Plan looked at a number of town facilities and recreating the same amenities that already exist in town “are not good for the taxpayers.”

The pool issue also came up at last Saturday’s budget meeting. Yvette Erickson and Tiffany Cote, who appeared before town council in January on the matter, also wanted to know the plans as Cote also pointed out a new pool is not in the 2019 budget.

Miceli said the town is looking at “pool access for 2019,” but added a new pool is not a high priority according to the Parks Master Plan. He said a new outdoor pool would be $1.5-$3 million while an indoor pool would cost $5-8 million with the decision ultimately being up to council.

Cote said children through seniors use the pool and believed it was “a shame” that it wasn’t a higher priority. The CAO responded that 913 users were reported at the Lions Pool last summer and emphasized there are “other means for short-term access.”

Erickson questioned why Centennial Park was sold “for so little,” with Miceli stating it was sold for fair market value. Miceli added most of the assets at Centennial Park are well past its lifespan. The Greater Essex County District School Board purchased the southern 15 acres of the park for $2.4 million to make way for a new public high school.

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.

Parks Master Plan adopted by town council

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town now officially has a Parks Master Plan.

However, it may take a while before recommendations contained within actually come to fruition.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo believes there may be some confusion over what the adoption of the plan really means. He said the plan contains “guiding principles” on how the municipality should proceed. He said public input went into the plan but noted it isn’t a plan that can sit on the shelf and not be changed.

“It has to continually be updated,” he said.

What may have been the final baseball games played at Centennial Park were held last weekend. The Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association held a pee wee select tournament at the park. (Special to the RTT)

The “guiding document” will help future councils going forward, he stated, but added “I think when you have a plan like this, people automatically assume it’s some kind of manual.”

There are 71 recommendations contained within the plan and not all will receive immediate attention.

“It’s a long-term plan and a very expensive plan,” DiCarlo stated. “It might take ten years to do some of (the recommendations).”

One of the issues that user groups would like to see action on in the near future include the replacement of the baseball diamonds at Centennial Park. Four diamonds are being lost due to the pending construction of a new public high school at the site. DiCarlo said administration is looking into alternative measures in the short term until new diamonds can be built at the Libro Centre. He added he learned that many parents would like services consolidated in case a family has more than one child in different sports activities at the same time.

As it relates to replacing the Lions Pool, “we’re learning a lot from other municipalities” in terms of cost.

Baseball moms Jenni Pillon, Tamara Hebert and Donna Drouillard volunteer for bantam and peewee select tournaments on the weekend at Centennial Park. The tournament featured possibly the final games ever at Centennial Park, as the portion with the diamonds was sold to the Greater Essex County District School Board and will be the site of the new public high school. (Special to the RTT)

“Pools cost a lot of money,” said DiCarlo. “A pool is extremely expensive to maintain.”

The doesn’t mean there won’t be a pool as DiCarlo stated he has been in discussion with non-profit groups about fundraising for a new pool. There are also discussions over such issues as where to locate a pool.

“To think the town can do it without financial help, I don’t know how realistic it is,” he said.

DiCarlo recalled that the Lions Pool was originally put in because of fundraising efforts being undertaken.

Amherstburg Sharks welcome area swim teams for annual meet

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A total of 190 swimmers from seven area swim teams made a trip to the Lions Pool for the annual Amherstburg Sharks swim meet.

“It’s a little bit less (this year),” said Lions Pool co-ordinator Kaitlyn Meloche, who is also one of the coaches of the Sharks’ swim team. “There are a lot of vacations this year.”

Jack Williams competes in one of the 64 events in the recent Amherstburg Sharks swim meet at the Lions Pool.

Jack Williams competes in one of the 64 events in the recent Amherstburg Sharks swim meet at the Lions Pool.

Of the 190 swimmers, 29 were on the Amherstburg team. Other teams came from Essex, St. Clair College, Harrow and Beach Grove as well as those who came from as far as Tilbury and Dutton.

The final results showed that Amherstburg had most points overall and most points for the boys. St Clair had most points for the girls.

“Things ran very smoothly this year,” said Meloche.

Meloche added it was her fourth year in charge of the swim meet.

“By now, we’ve gotten it down to a science. It’s a well-oiled machine,” she said. “I’ve also got a lot of help. There are a lot of volunteers this year and it’s a big help.”

Aven-Noelle Miller dives into the pool at the start of one of the races at the Lions Pool.

Aven-Noelle Miller dives into the pool at the start of one of the races at the Lions Pool.

Strokes of all kinds were featured, as were relay events, with 64 swimming events taking place throughout the day. Organizers were able to get the youth swimmers in the pool for 46 of those events before the lunch break, Meloche pointed out.

“This is my last year running the meet,” she added, noting she has been working at the Lions Pool for six years in total. “It’s been an incredible experience. It’s just been awesome.”

Meloche urged other youth to look into becoming lifeguards as “it’s the best summer job there is.”

Amherstburg Sharks host annual swim meet

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Lions Pool was a busy place last Saturday as swimmers from across Essex County matched their skills against one another.

The Amherstburg Sharks hosted their annual swim meet with the Sharks being one of seven teams to compete. Essex, Beach Grove, Harrow, St. Clair Beach, Tecumseh and Tilbury also were represented at the meet, which saw 180 kids overall.

Kaitlyn Meloche, meet manager and Lions Pool co-ordinator, said the swim meet went well.

“I have more volunteers this year than I’ve ever had,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback.”

Amherstburg’s Matthew Womack heads  to the finish line during last Saturday’s Amherstburg Sharks swim meet at the Lions Pool.

Amherstburg’s Matthew Womack heads to the finish line during last Saturday’s Amherstburg Sharks swim meet at the Lions Pool.

Results were posted quickly, Meloche noted, and that was a positive as parents and swimmers alike want to know how they did. Swimmers competed in six events – the individual medley, freestyle, back crawl, breast stroke, relay and the coaches and parents relay – with the latter being a new addition.

“The coaches are happy to get into the water on days that it’s hot and humid,” remarked Meloche.

The meet also featured a points-per-swimmer scoring system so smaller teams could have a better chance at overall medals. Meloche said larger teams can dominate medal ceremonies despite smaller teams having good swimmers, so it was an attempt to give everyone a fair shot at medals.

The re-establishment of a swim meet in Amherstburg has been good for the local swimming program, she added, as the Sharks’ swim team has grown from 16 members to 45 members in just three years.

Swimmers dive into the Lions Pool during the Amherstburg Sharks swim meet.

Swimmers dive into the Lions Pool during the Amherstburg Sharks swim meet.

“It’s awesome to see that,” said Meloche, adding the swimmers not only develop their skills in the pool but make new friends as well.

The swim meet also has led to the team growing and has also built a “sense of community,” Meloche added. The team travels to about five or six meets per year, she continued, and they go as far as Dresden.

The Sharks practice at the Lions Pool three times per week for one hour per practice.

The boys overall title was won by Harrow while Tilbury captured both the girls overall title and the team championship. Amherstburg finished second in the team category.