Despite opposition from a few quarters, the majority of residents are onboard with current plans for a skate park and sports pad behind the Wellesley Community Centre, says the head of the recreation service board.
“The majority of the community wants the skate park by the splash park and the [multi-use sports pad] down by the tennis courts,” Janek Jagiellowicz told township councillors meeting this week, citing results from the latest open house on January 15.
Board members want to move the proposed 3,600-square-foot skate site further into the tree line, awaiting permission from the Grand River Conservation Authority. If the request is approved, another meeting will be held to move the plans further along.
“The nice thing is they [the residents] realized it’s a permanent structure but equipment can be over time brought in and taken away as things develop.”
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Jagiellowicz said there is enough funding to start the skate park and sports pad projects, adding additional federal funding might be an option.
In November, the Wellesley ABC Festival and some residents expressed concerns the township may be trying to cram too many uses onto the site behind the community centre. As well, there were worries about the proximity of younger kids to older teens as both use the splash pad and skate park facilities.
The latest meeting worked to get all parties on board with plans, Jagiellowicz said.
“The community is in favour, and the nice thing is, the [Wellesley-North Easthope Fall Fair] board, the splash park and the Lions Club, which were the main groups concerned when the first digging happened, are on board, supportive and realize the situation.”
Coun. Jim Olender said a trail accessing the skate park from the nearby soccer fields might be a good idea, as suggested by Wellesley resident Daniel Bisch.
“That would allow handicapped people to get down and allow mothers with [strollers] to get down there because right now there’s no direct way down,” he said.
The meeting was well attended, with some residents raising concerns over possible noise issues with the skate park, however. Currently, Wellesley’s skate park consists of a wooden half pipe and rails.
“Some of the skaters said cement is actually going to be quieter than wood.”
Mayor Ross Kelterborn suggested looking at a below-ground setup to help with the noise, similar to a facility in Waterloo where the park is located in a bowl-like pit below ground level. With the community centre grounds filling up, the township may have to acquire more parkland in the future, he added.
“In my humble opinion that seems to be a great thing: Number one, it’s quiet. Had you talked about another type of skate park like the one I’m talking about at another location?”
“[The skaters] want a pad. They don’t want the bowl. They don’t want this. They want something in Wellesley that they can actually go on. If they want to go to the bowl they’ll go to Waterloo, they will be transient from that standpoint. What they want is a pad in Wellesley that they can use.”
Coun. Herb Neher asked for visual renderings of the exact layouts of new additions prior to the final proposal coming to council.