Yvette Erickson

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.