Monday, September 30, 2013

Committed to Revitalizing Downtown Fenwick

Pelham Council decided during our regular meeting on Monday, September 16, 2013, to temporarily postpone the revitalization of Downtown Fenwick from the fall of 20 13 to early 2014.

You will recall that Council budgeted $2.1 million to revitalize Downtown Fenwick in 2013. The improvements were intended to help make the area more pedestrian friendly, bury the hydro lines, and enhance the historic flagpole (thanks to funds raised during Fenwick’s 150th celebration).

We had a wonderful celebration of Fenwick’s 160th Anniversary in the spring (thanks to a number of very committed and community-minded volunteers). And, thanks to the work of the Pelham Heritage Committee, Council officially designated the Fenwick Flagpole as a significant heritage structure in May – the first flagpole so designated in Ontario.

So, why have we agreed to postpone the reconstruction and revitalization of Downtown Fenwick?

Council made this decision after receiving a staff report outlining the complexities of the project requirements, including: total road reconstruction to address storm water and soil conditions; and reconfiguration of overhead utility wires to an underground system

In essence, to deal properly with the storm sewers and to tie them correctly into the systems on adjoining streets, construction crews will have to dig fairly deep; with a high water table and poor soil conditions, the best time to undertake that work would be in the winter months. Second, the requirement to bury the hydro lines and other overhead utilities means that the Town must work closely with Ontario Hydro; Hydro had said they could not undertake that work until 2014.

As a result, the Town cannot complete the project before the end of 2013. Council felt that there was no reason to dig up the road now to bury the storm sewers, only to have it a mess until the utilities could be buried next spring.

Council also directed staff to firm up the revitalization schedule so that any negative impact can be kept to a minimum and to also give the community plenty opportunity to plan and prepare for any potential disruptions.

Finally, the planned work may require additional finances. I understand that staff may also be submitting an additional budget request to Council for consideration during the 2014 capital budget deliberations.

I want to assure you that Council remains committed to revitalizing Downtown Fenwick. Instead of starting construction now and impacting the downtown all winter, we intend to start early in 2014. We are all looking forward to it!