Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Facilities Update

Many people have asked me recently about how things are progressing with some of our facilities in Town.

As you’ll recall, during the summer Council established three facilities committees – Fire Station #2 Replacement Committee, Maple Acre Library Branch Replacement Committee, and Recreational Facilities Committee. Working to plan and develop various facilities, each committee includes Town Councillors, myself (as a non-voting member) and appropriate staff.

The Fire Station #2 Replacement Committee, chaired by Councillor Debbie Urbanowicz, started meeting in September. The committee determined that the Town needs a new Fire Station because the current vehicle bays do not have enough room for future vehicle requirements. In addition, parts of the building are structurally inadequate; for instance, the south-east corner is severely cracked and deteriorating. There are also significant safety concerns with the firefighters backing fire trucks into the station after each call.

Next, the committee determined that required improvements cannot occur on the current site. An additional fire bay attached to the current building would eliminate vehicle parking for the volunteer fire fighters. And, if the current building was demolished and totally replaced, there’s not enough land to construct a new firehall with enough parking.

Thus, the committee developed a “site criteria matrix” with weighted scoring to evaluate other public lands – Centennial Park, downtown Fenwick lands. The matrix showed that those lands didn’t even meet 50% of their ideal site requirements.

So, in December and again in January, the committee invited public landowners to submit options for new sites which were to be evaluated with the same site criteria matrix. Finally, the committee has undertaken a functional analysis to determine the fire service’s specific requirements for individual rooms and building configuration.

The Maple Acre Library Branch Replacement Committee, chaired by Councillor Dave Emmons, started meeting in October. The committee determined that, even as it stands now, the current facility is deficient – not accessible, structurally unsound. Working to determine short- and long-term requirements, the committee is considering circulation statistics, population projections, and the interplay between branch usage patterns. The committee is still evaluating the “Top 10” needs and objectives of the library branch and site. It too has undertaken a functional analysis to determine specific requirements for rooms and building configuration.

The Recreational Facilities Committee, chaired by Councillor John Durley, began meeting in November. Its mandate is very broad and includes the future of all Town recreational facilities – arena, outdoor pool, sports fields, and parks. The committee assembled all recommendations from the many previous recreational studies. It has begun determining challenges and establishing priorities.