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Donations get the ball rolling for a new rec. complex in Wellesley

Plans for a new Wellesley recreation complex got a boost last weekend, with the township receiving two separate donations for a combined total of $33,600.

The money was the first of what the township hopes will be a flood of community support for its plan to replace the Wellesley arena. Having recently come up with a temporary fix that will avoid shutting down the arena this year, municipal council is still looking at a new facility, for which it has allocated up to $150,000 to start the design and engineering stages.

Local fundraising of as much as $5 million could be needed to advance the project. The township is looking for the federal and provincial governments to each cover a third of the total cost, with Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris having indicated a grant opportunity may be available in the fall.

Last weekend’s donations get the ball rolling on the community fundraising portion that will be required. The project received $30,000 from the Don Green Memorial Fund and another $3,600 from the Steve Campbell Memorial Fund.

The Don Green donation came in conjunction with the annual fundraising slo-pitch tournament held in the township.

“Jim Green [Don’s brother] made this decision with the Don Green family members. Back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s with higher interest rates the fund generated more interest and when they ran the tournament all the proceeds went into the fund, thus it grew quite large,” said Blair Cressman, one of the organizers of the annual tournament, in an email.

Previous projects supported by the fund include ball diamond improvements, tree replanting, arena heaters and sound system, soccer field improvements, a new flooder, a new groomer and fencing. The fund, named after late Don Green, has contributed to improving recreation services in the township since 1985.

The fund has also provided more than $8,000 to various sports organizations, $4,000 to Wellesley Public School, and $2,300 to service clubs.

Following last weekend’s contribution, the account has been closed.

“They made the donation right at the arena, as a matter of fact, which was nice,” said Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak.  “Between the interest on that fund, and the proceeds of the annual tournament, there’s a significant amount of money put into the community to all sorts of different initiatives. It’s certainly well appreciated.”

Another contributor to the cause is the Campbell family of the Steve Campbell Memorial Fund, named after the first principal of Wellesley PS.

“He died in the arena at the age of 39 while he was playing broomball,” explained Nowak. “He was instrumental in raising funds the build that [original] arena.”

Previous proceeds from this fund went into minor sports over the years, as well as the purchase of new sweaters for the Wellesley Applejacks hockey team.

“Steve Campbell and Don Green were well-respected members of the community, and both had a very untimely passing,” said Nowak. “It was nice to see in this respect that their legacy is carrying on.”

Plans for the new complex are already taking shape through the Wellesley Township Recreation Centre Committee. Their next goal, after finalizing a wish-list for the structure, would be organizing fundraising events for it, with the recent donations making for a good start.

Nowak said in an interview that while there had yet to be a decision on a new recreation complex, parkland at Queen’s Bush and Hutchison roads was likely the better option than building at the current Catherine Street site.

“We’re looking at a building that is potentially three times the size of the one that we have now. For that reason, it just wouldn’t fit. We’d have to give up that upper ball diamond. The upper soccer field would likely be turned into a parking lot, and you’d lose a lot of that green space.

“So if you wanted my opinion, it should definitely go to the new property. There are other issues involved if we’re going to building something, it’s going to have to be scalable. In other words, it’s going to have to have enough land around it that we can add to it in maybe 10, 15, or 20 years.”

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