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Council leans toward Bolender Park for splashed ice project

Proposed for Gibson Park, a new splash pad/ice rink combo might be better located elsewhere in Elmira, Woolwich councillors suggest.

The so-called splashed ice project is spearheaded by the Woolwich Recreational Facilities Foundation. Having received some $450,000 in pledges, including an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, the group wants to move ahead with a public fundraising campaign. To that end, it’s looking for the township to pick a location.

WRFF’s David Paisley said the preferred location is Gibson Park, which is already a favourite destination for young families.

“We feel this is definitely the location for this project,” he told councillors meeting Jan. 18, noting the goal is to begin construction in the spring to allow for a summertime opening of the splash pad.

Councillors, however, were not sold on the Gibson Park location, suggesting alternatives such as Bolender Park and Lions Park.

Parking is an issue at Gibson Park, which is already home to well-used amenities, most notably the Kate’s Place accessible playground. A splashed ice facility would be located closer to the homes that border the park, increasing the impact on residents, councillors pointed out.

“There will be more car traffic, no doubt about it,” said Coun. Mark Bauman in calling for another location. “I’d like to see the amenities spread out.”

NEWS_BolenderPark_Map

Coun. Patrick Merlihan suggested Bolender Park, which has ample space and parking. The splashed ice facility would be well back from a residential area.

“What Kate’s Kause did for Gibson Park, I’d like splashed ice to do for Bolender Park,” he said, noting the park could use some rejuvenation.

“Bolender is another one that we like a lot. It’s kind of nice to spread things out,” noted director of recreation and facilities Karen Makela of her department’s evaluation of the project.

The location will be part of a public consultation process prior to moving ahead, she added.

First proposed as a combination that would include a refrigerated ice component, the project was not warmly received by council, which fretted about the operating costs estimated at up to $50,000 a year. Instead, the facility may go ahead with the ability to add refrigeration at a later date. The plan calls for a splash pad that includes features that can be removed in the winter to allow the concrete surface to become a skating rink. The dual-use piping supplies water for the splash pad and can be refrigerated in the winter to keep the ice surface intact when temperatures get above freezing.

Although Gibson Park was the target location, the project was never tied to that spot. While that’s the preferred locale, the foundation is open to other options, said Paisley.

“Ultimately, we want what’s best for the community.”

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