Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Questions from the Community

You will recall that two columns ago, I wrote that the Recreational Facilities Committee will be making a report soon. Over the years, many people have asked me questions that I hope will be addressed in that imminent report.

Does Pelham need more ice time / another ice pad? Will we need more ice in the future?
What is the historic usage for the arena? What is the current usage? What is the projected need? While it is projected that Pelham’s population will grow by 6,000 people by 2031, because of an aging population, does that mean that the number of arena users will grow? Some say that the current usage is more than 100%, but what does that mean when I drive by during the day and the arena is not being used? Has Pelham Minor Hockey or Pelham Figure Skating committed to additional ice time? What about girl’s hockey? What other community recreational facilities will be needed in the future?

If the need is evident, can you add-on to the current arena (as originally envisioned)?
Wasn’t the current arena built so that it could be added-on to? Because of the condition of existing building, would that be like throwing “good money after bad”? Is adding-on even possible? Could Pelham add a new ice surface and all new dressing rooms? Is there enough property to add-on? How would that impact adjoining properties?

If the need is evident, can Pelham build a new twin-pad arena on the current site?
If Pelham cannot add-on, is there enough property at the current site to construct a twin-pad? If you are building new, what else should be included? It would take months to construct a new twin-pad; could it even be done while the existing arena operates? Would it increase traffic? Where would Pelham relocate the soccer fields, multipurpose court, platform tennis, and Parks & Recreation compound that are currently on that property?

If it cannot fit on the current site, will a new facility fit on the Town-owned property at the corner of Rice Road and Highway 20?
Would you need all of the 32 acres? Didn’t Council vote to sell that property? Will the property costs be added to any construction costs? What would happen to the current arena property?

How much would each of these options cost?
Can Pelham tax-payers afford the capital / construction costs? Can Pelham afford “not to” do it? What about grants? What about partnering with another City or Town to save money / better use resources? How much would the increased operating costs be and can we afford that?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mayor's Gala Raises $25,100 to "Konnect" Kids!

The cold weather did not damper the generosity of participants and sponsors of the Second Annual Pelham Mayor’s Gala held at Peninsula Lakes Golf Course on Saturday, May 8, 2010.

The black-tie event raised $25,100 (net) for “Konnecting Kids” and included an exquisite Marché dinner, dozens of silent auction prizes, an “activity auction”, and talented Pelham-based entertainment.

I am so grateful to the sponsors, donors, participants, and volunteers of this Second Annual Gala. Because of their generosity and support, kids in need will have the opportunity to use their talents and follow their interests – for art, for sport, for music – to their fullest potential.

The Second Annual Mayor’s Gala included an exquisite Marché–style dinner, a silent auction with nearly 100 items donated by local and Regional businesses, and an activity auction – where donors could directly fund activities like music lessons, camp fees, and sport registration fees for needy children.

Chantal, a 14-year-old Pelham youth, gave an impassioned testimonial on how the “Konnecting Kids” program has positively impacted her life.

The Gala also featured some outstanding Pelham musical talent including Mark Lalama, one of Canada’s most accomplished composers, producers and musicians; Greg Holmes, playing a “stick-Guitar” during the cocktail hour; and Jim Casson, who assembled an All-Star Gala Band for the party at the end of the night.

Elite sponsors for the event included: ABC Recreation Ltd, AECOM, Charter Building, CIBC, Custom Cart Services, Einstein’s Art & Home, Lafarge, Meridian Credit Union, Niagara College, Peninsula Lakes Golf Course, Quartek Group Inc., and Walker Industries.

The volunteer organizing committee included Jordan Arcaro, Jean Bancroft, Betty Brown, Ian Hamilton, John Nicol, Ruth Nixon, Susan Wink, and Paul Winkler. The event ran very smoothly because of volunteers Jordan Arcaro, Jean Bancroft, Betty Brown, Ruth Nixon, Leah Ugulini, Susan Wink, and Jake Winkler.

A special partnership fund established in 2001 by the Town of Pelham and Pelham Cares, “Konnecting Kids” allows a Pelham youth whose family has limited financial resources to participate in recreational, cultural, and educational programs.

Last year’s Inaugural Mayor’s Gala was one of Pelham’s most successful fundraising events, raising $22,700 net) for “Project Pelham Cares” – a permanent location for Pelham Cares services.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recreational Facilities Committee Update

Since it is expected that the Recreational Facilities Committee will present a Report in May or June, I wanted to outline for you the process followed so far and inform you about next steps.

As you may recall, in 2007 Council hired a consultant to solicit significant public input to help determine the long-term needs for significant Town facilities – like the Arena, Fire Stations, Library Branches, Town Hall, and Old Town Hall. Presented in April 2008, that report called for (among other things) a joint facility to replace and enlarge Fire Station #2 and the Maple Acre Library, a new twin-pad arena in Town or in partnership with Welland, and to keep the campus-like feel of Fonthill’s downtown with the continued presence of the Town Hall and the Fonthill Library Branch.

As a result, in August of 2008 Council created three special facilities committees – one for Maple Acre Library branch, one for Pelham Fire Station #2, and one for Recreation Facilities – to make recommendations on the construction / replacement of Town facilities. Working to plan and develop various facilities, each committee includes Town Councillors, myself (as an ex officio member) and appropriate staff.

The Recreational Facilities Committee began meeting in November 2008. Its broad mandate includes reviewing 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 and began work to determine the Town's short- and long-term recreational needs.

In July 2009 the Committee tabled an Interim Report that contained many recommendations. Council received the report and directed staff to hire an architect to develop a functional analysis and to refine the capital and operating costs based on the recommendations.

You see, the Committee was “at a point where additional information [was] required from outside resources, namely local planning and architectural services” so that they could finish their work.

This architectural work is to culminate in a report that details the space requirements, capital costs, operating costs, potential site plan, most-suitable location, timeframes, and energy efficiency opportunities for a modern, community-centre type of recreational facility for immediate and future requirements for Pelham. The architects held a couple of workshop sessions for user-groups in October and January, and presented a draft report to the Committee in early March.

While this analysis was to be completed by now, the architect continues to work on it. I am told to expect the Report in May or June – first to the Committee, and then to Council. From there, Council will have to review the Report and decide on next steps.