Kinsmen Park is not the place for the town’s new office building. That was the sentiment expressed by a delegation of people who are opposed to the town’s proposed creation of the new town hall in the area.
The group presented their idea to the town council during the regular meeting of January 9.
Mayor Pat Fule said, “We want to say that we absolutely respect and appreciate everything that the Kinsmen have done in regards to this Kinsmen Park. I have been here 30-35 years and even back when I would teach we would jog around the Kinsmen Park pathway,” said Fule.
“We added the paved pathways because we believed so much in that park and we believe it’s a real gem for our community,” he said.
He explained that town council have discussed the matter as a group and have considered some of the suggestions put to them in a letter from Harrison Gray.
The mayor said the council was looking into some compromises as well.
Harrison Gray and Doug Risdon were members of the group that presented to the town council. Gray is one of the founders of Kinsemn Park and a long-time resident of Strathmore.
“I am greatly concerned about the mayor and the councillors approach to building a new office in the northwest corner of the Kinsmen Park,” said Gray.
“I think there are numerous flaws in it (the plan) and I hope to give you some better options and different ideas,” he said. Gray explained that he is not against building a new town office. “I think your location is terrible,” he said.
Gray said that Kinsman Park is a top attraction in Strathmore. “It is well used by the citizens of Strathmore and the visitors to Strathmore,” he said.
He noted that in 50 years from now the town will grow and the office will need to grow as well.
He said that the park draws people to the downtown. He also noted that the park provides vital parking in the downtown.
He gave three suggestions for locations for the new office, one the land next to the park and beside Hi-Ho Gas, a second at the ball diamonds beside the splash park and the third on the current land where the town office sits.
Risdon explained that he contacted 29 businesses on Main Street and Third Avenue with a survey to find out their opinion on the proposed move.
“The majority of the people are not in favour of that location,” he said of having the office in the northwest corner of the park. He said 28 out of 29 businesses didn’t want it.
In terms of the proposal, Mayor Fule said, “We have not made any decision yet.”
The major expressed concern over the purchase price for the land beside Hi-Ho.
“We know how much we sold it for. It was valued at $1.5 million. It sold for $1.5 million in late 2016. It’s definitely gone up in value,” he said.
The mayor explained that the move was meant to help support the downtown businesses and have the existing lot where the town office is located be for a seniors lodge and a hospice.
“We haven’t made a decision. We’re going to listen to everything that has come forward. We respect your opinions,” he said.
The mayor said that a decision will be made at a future council meeting and that Gray and Risdon’s information would be on the record.