Skatepark progress continues to be stalled

Group asks for $200,000 from Bridgewater council

KELSEY POWER PHOTO Sadie Watson claims she has been hearing about this park’s creation since she was seven years old. Now that she’s 31, she hopes her three year old will someday get the chance to use such a facility.

Sadie Watson claims she has been hearing about this park’s creation since she was seven years old. Now that she’s 31, she hopes her three year old will someday get the chance to use such a facility.

The proposed skateboard, scooter, BMX and bike park for Bridgewater has been further pushed back.

The Grinder’s Square All-wheels Park committee approached council for $200,000 of funding March 9, and its request was denied.

The committee’s motion was moved to the budget deliberation process instead.

“I still think we need to have an overall picture. I would still like to have information from staff with regard to projected gas tax revenues over the next three years,” said Mayor David Walker.

“I think there’s more information that I need before I can make that commitment.”

Aside from analyzing projected gas tax revenues council plans to raise the possibility of making the project a regional partnership with the District of Lunenburg, (MODL).

“There was some talk between MODL and Bridgewater about regional facilities, and I think there’s a fine example where that could be done … because the whole region will use it and should be supporting it,” said Councillor Wayne Thorburne.

The committee representatives requested that the town commit to 40 per cent of the total project cost of $500,000, a maximum of $200,000, with the understanding the committee had to raise the remainder of the project’s funding within the next four years. They also requested potential sponsors be allowed to donate funds over a three-year period.

“This commitment would input in a formal agreement,” said Sandy Mair-Dodman, the acting recreation, parks and culture director for the town of Bridgewater who also sits on this committee.

“The committee feels that this is imperative, that council backs this project up with financial support for it to become a reality.”

They need council to allow other sponsors to donate over that period of time in case the park is built in less time than projected.

“If the all-wheels park wasn’t built for four years, say we built it in one year or two years, and we’re asking people to donate over a three-year period, the park could actually get built before the donations and sponsors were to come in over that time frame, so there would be a bit of a risk to the town,” said Trudy Payne, the director of recreation for the Municipality of Lunenburg, who also serves on this committee.

The town would be expected to cover the donations of other sponsors until the agreed time they were due.

“I’m very familiar with this, because this is the type of process that was used in the Municipality of Chester when they did their skatepark,” said Ms Payne, who assured council that all of the donors and sponsors in that instance honoured their commitments.

At the moment, $69,410 has been raised.

There are other areas of potential income.The town holds a reserve account of $14,410, and MODL committed $40,000 over a four-year period, from 2013 to 2017. Michelin agreed to donate $16,000, $1,000 of which has already been spent on the design phase of the project. The United Way of Lunenburg previously committed $15,000, but as the project has taken so long to get off, or, in this case, on the ground, the committee will have to apply for funding from this organization again. Also, The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness has a facility development grant of up to $150,000, which is a third of the cost of the project.

“I do know that the gas tax agreement had changed and is now allowed for recreation capital projects and the all-wheels park would definitely fit within the category of culture, tourism, recreation and sport infrastructure,” said Ms Payne, which is why the town will also explore this as a possible source of commitment.

The Grinder’s Square All-wheels Family Park became a Town of Bridgewater project in 2013. This meant it would own and operate the park once it was completed. This was nine years after the initial sketeches of the official vision for the park were made, when the Bridgewater Development Association (BDA) contacted Spectrum Skateparks to design a concept for the skatepark. It proposed a skatepark different from any other in the province, a 10,000-square-foot plaza. The town and the BDA have already invested $27,000 and $36,000 for the conceptual plan and construction design respectively.

The BDA also donated land for this use to the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre (LCLC) to create an overall recreation complex. This resulted in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the town and the LCLC and the creation of a committee of council to implement the park.

“I want to be very clear. I think the project has extreme merit,” said Mayor Walker. “I think it would be used extensively within our community.”

As originally published in LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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