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Recreation committee continues to seek public input on improvements to Breslau Memorial Park

With the completion of the new tot playground at the Breslau Memorial Park, the Breslau park revitalization committee is now asking for the public’s input on a long-term vision for the park. Unveiling a master plan at the Breslau Community Centre on Saturday, the volunteer-run group is hoping for suggestions as it deliberates on future improvements to the park.

“We’ve now got the concept plan down and we’re looking to now bring that to the public and start moving towards implementation,” explained committee member Bill Smith.

“What we want to present to the people is basically what we’ve done so far,” added Smith. “And the majority of what we’ve done is to come up with a vision for the park.”

The unveiling of the master plan comes weeks after the park was outfitted with a new playground, replacing the previous one that was deemed unsafe and torn down. The new equipment was paid for by the township at a cost of $30,000, plus an additional $5,000 to remove the derelict play structure.

The creation of the master plan also comes as an important sign of progress for Breslau, after plans to sell off parts of the parkland were nixed due to popular opposition. The Waterloo District Catholic School Board had offered to purchase sections of the parkland in a $1.75-million deal that would have been used to pay for improvements to the remainder of park. Breslau residents instead opted for a local solution to raising funds for future upgrades.

Breslau’s Conestoga Meat Packers has committed to providing $20,000 per year for 5 years for park improvements in Breslau. Mayor Shantz stands with president Arnold Drung and Ward 3 Councillors Murray Martin and Larry Shantz at a recent cheque presentation.

The tot playground was only the first step in a larger project, which envisions a host of new additions and renovations for the park over several years. Many of the improvements, explains Smith, like the tennis courts, sports pad and playground for older children, will ideally be implemented as the current equipment needs to be replaced.

“In some cases we’d be looking at partnering with the township on certain items. Like one example would be the existing tennis courts,” said Smith.

“When they need to be redone, we’re looking at moving that location to somewhere else in the park. And then it would be a bit of a cost-share. What would the township be putting towards the cost of replacement? And then the community might be kicking additional dollars too.”

Of late, recreational projects such as playgrounds have been paid for by community fundraising, with the township then assuming ownership and looking after operational and maintenance costs.

How quickly the Breslau park projects are tackled depends a good deal on where and when funding becomes available, says Smith. That could be either from the townships, through grant programs, or from fundraising by the committee itself. The master plan will help guide those grant requests and fundraisers.

“I’m a believer that when you want to go fundraise something, people want to know ‘what is my money going towards? When do you expect that to go in?’ As opposed to just going in vaguely asking for to contribute towards a project. Especially when we’re talking about something that’s going to be multi-year multi-stage,” said Smith.

“Once we start launching specific fundraising, we’ll be identifying what those [funds] will be going towards. But the initial projects that we want to tackle is we want to build the shade structure by the tot park, we want to get some trees into the park for additional shade and just to have some more trees.”

Included in the master plan is a space for a future splash pad, though the actual splash pad project itself is being organized by the Breslau Lions Club.

How the township plans to get involved, and the funds they’re hoping to contribute, is still undecided.

“As a township we’ll continue to support that committee in an administrative capacity, help them with fundraising initiatives if we can. And we’ll certainly look to partner on new initiatives if there is funding available,” said Ann McArthur, director of recreation services.

“Certainly our role from a capital infrastructure perspective would be to replace any existing infrastructure that has reached its useful life and needs to be replaced.”

The rec. committee and township say they are still keen for feeback from the community, especially in the early stages of the plan. A colour copy of the master plan is on display at the community centre. McArthur notes that staff there can help people with questions and comments get in touch with township or the recreation committee.

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