Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moving Forward on Town Facilities

As you may have read in the papers, members of Council took significant steps regarding Town facilities last week.

The Corporate Services Committee (which includes all Councillors) approved the creation of three special facilities committees – one for Maple Acres Library branch, one for Pelham Fire Station #2, and one for Recreation Facilities. We also approved the development of a conceptual plan for a new Town complex, which would include a new Administration / Library facility in Town Square. Finally, we forwarded all other identified deficiencies in Town facilities to the 2009 budget considerations. With some small refinements, these recommendations were forwarded to next Monday’s Council meeting.

So, what does this mean for the current arena, you ask? The Recreational Facilities Committee will review all arena options – including twinning the current rink, partnering with Welland or Niagara College on a new twin-pad, fixing-up the current rink and partnering with Welland for ice time, or only revitalizing the current single-pad arena. – and report back by mid-2009. Because some of these decisions may impact on the soccer fields, general purpose sport courts, and platform tennis currently at the arena property, this committee will also suggest improvements to other recreational facilities. Regardless of the final option, I believe we will be moving forward to improve arena facilities and services.

The two other special committees will address the construction of a new Maple Acres Library branch and a new Pelham Fire Station #2. Councillors agreed that the library and fire station committees should report back before the end of 2008 with conceptual plans so that we can take advantage of any federal or provincial grants in 2009.

Finally, since the Town Hall and Fonthill Library Branch complement the downtown, the band shell, and other amenities, staff will report in September 2010 with plans for a new Town complex in the area. I believe that this will help to maintain the walkable, campus-like feel that we currently possess in downtown Fonthill.

How are we going to pay for all this, you ask? The report includes realistic construction budgets and funding estimates – with 10% community fundraising for both the library and arena projects and shows costs with and without government support. In addition, the three special committees will have to determine how to pay for any extra operating costs.

So, pending Council approval on Monday, Councillors will be working together over the next few months to plan the fiscally-responsible construction of facilities to better serve you and everyone in our Town.