If all goes as planned there could eventually be a new downtown park at Louis St. next to the existing Shoppers Drug Mart that would have a refrigerated skating rink in winter, a “ground geyser” water park in summer, a stage with space to hold outdoor concerts and a prominent piece of public art.
“It’s an exciting project, and good for the downtown,” said Coun. Bill Juby, whose only regret was that the project won’t get done sooner.
The park, which is expected to cost about $4 million, is planned to be built over several years in conjunction with a makeover of Charlotte St.
If you combine both projects, the price tag is about $8.5 million; the plan is to get it all done over the next 6 years.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Coun. Dean Pappas, adding that he thinks it will “spur development” in the area.
Yet when this project was discussed before, some councillors - and the mayor - felt the location wasn’t ideal.
Those concerns haven’t been altogether allayed. On Monday, Coun. Bob Hall said he still thinks councillors ought to invest money in a riverfront park - not one in the centre of all traffic and concrete.
He said he thought the preliminary design for this plan was “spectacular” - but nonetheless he ultimately thinks the city has limited money and ought to spend it on a new park on the water instead.
“There’s no problem, for me, with the design,” Hall said. “But for me, there’s a finite amount of resources. Where do you want to put those resources?”
Councillors were sitting as the planning committee when they approved a concept plan that shows a park between the existing Shoppers Drug Mart store at Charlotte and Aylmer streets and the Rivulet Park apartment complex.
The park would take up the space that is currently the Louis St. parking lot. Louis St. itself would also be closed; the park would be built over it.
The plan assumes that the existing Shoppers Drug Mart building - which is for sale - will be bought by someone other than the city.
Under a concept plan proposed to councillors by Brian Buchardt, the city’s urban design planner, the park would have a large oval at its centre. In the summer, that oval would be a refrigerated skating rink. In summer, he said it would have “ground geysers” similar to those at splash pads.
There would also be a large stage, washrooms and changerooms. He told councillors the park could be used for the downtown farmers’ market as well as children’s summer camps or public gatherings such as Ribfest.
The vote Monday evening means staff can have an environmental assessment done on this new park project and also on the proposed makeover of Charlotte St.
The approval also means city staff can look for a consultant to come up with a detailed design for the early phases of both Charlotte St. and the new park.
Before the vote, councillors asked Buchardt plenty of questions about the concept plan.
Coun. Dan McWilliams asked whether the plan “duplicates” services the city already offers. There are already new, nearby splash pads, for instance, so he wondered why the “ground geysers” were included in the plan.
He also questioned the idea of having children’s events - such as outdoor library programming or summer camps - when there are lots of city parks for that.
He also wondered whether a park downtown was necessary at all, saying that people really want to go to a riverfront area for recreation.
Buchardt said there are splash pads and parks in the city. “But we don’t have this in the downtown, where people come and go daily,” he said. “It’s a central gathering-place in the city’s downtown core.”
Features such as the ground geysers and the stage have been installed in downtowns around the world - and been successful, he said. “We’re not recreating the wheel.”
Source: Peterborough Examiner
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