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Walkway out, multi-sport court and basketball pad in, for Benson Park reno

UPDATE NOV 14 – Enhancement of the Confederation Walkway has been removed for now, but the multi-sport tennis court and a basketball pad remain for Picton’s Benson Park rehabilitation project.

Council voted 12-2 Tuesday night for a revised tender of $237,934 to be awarded to Scott Wentworth Landscape Group, along with a $94,137 tender for public washrooms.

An increase of $48,000 is approved to be drawn from the Capital Sustainability Reserve, though efforts are to be made to reconnect with community and service groups that may not have been contacted regarding funding support to alleviate the amount needed.

Council also took councillor Kevin Gale’s suggestion to amend the the bylaw to specifically include the basketball pad along with the multi-purpose tennis court and to ensure discussions are held with the Prince Edward Heritage Advisory Committee (PEHAC) and the local OPP detachment regarding public safety.

Paul Adamthwaite, of the neighbouring Naval Marine Archives building, had expressed concerns in a deputation that poorly located washrooms would encourage crime and shady activities. He also claimed poor public and PEHAC consultations and questioned the need for a place to play pickleball.

Community Development director Neil Carbone stated there had been overwhelming consultation well before and since 2015 and that the project work would consider what is known as CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) to ensure safety concerns are met.

Carbone said the designs for the park will make their way through the planning department, and PEHAC, and plans will included input from the OPP regarding any safety improvements and hazards.

The Confederation Walkway would be back on the table following agreements with neighbours at the Marine Archives and Henderson Williams Law office.

In March, MP Neil Ellis presented more than $130,000 in Canada 150 Grant funding for the park revitalization project.

Over budget tenders and right-of-way concerns may change Benson Park project

NOV 13 – Over budget tenders and right-of-way concerns could result in changes for the revitalization of Picton’s Benson Park and ‘Confederation Walkway’ project.

Councillors will review staff recommendations when they meet around the horseshoe Tuesday night as the budget of $400,000 set aside is $57,219 short.

County staff have presented several recommendations, including removal of the multi-purpose basketball pad saving $36,200 and removal of the walkway saving $40,364. Anticipated shortfall of $30,000 from an expected $80,000 from community fundraising and full use of the 10 per cent contingency fund would result in the project being $18,720 over budget. Additional costs, if necessary, would come from the Capital Sustainability Reserve. The Canada 150 Grant covers $133,200.

Divided into three projects, plans include replacement of the existing staircase, pathways, lighting, site furnishings and new signage. Also planned is a public washroom near Benson Hall (the historic original Barker homestead known as The Grange) and reconstruction of the tennis court and fencing.

The Scott Wentworth Landscape Group was the only tender received for the landscape work, coming in at $278,298.25 – including construction of the walkway – proposed to comprise three sections of pavers engraved as heritage panels connecting Picton Main Street to the top of the staircase and wheelchair ramp.

However, the right-of-way owned by the municipality between the Henderson and Williams law office and the Naval Marine Archive is an alley with vehicular right-of-way in favour of the neighbouring properties. They have “right to unobstructed use of the entire 15 foot laneway” and it may be the case “that no buildings, structures of plantings (including, without limitation, no signage, fencing, benches, garbage receptacles etc) be placed within the 15-foot right-of-way.

As the walkway may be in conflict with the right-of-way terms, staff are recommending the works be removed from the contract and only executed once a plan has been developed to address all conditions of the right-of-way.

Two tenders were received for the washroom addition, but one was deemed incomplete, leaving The Scott Wentworth Landscape Group tender for $94,137.14.

Council may also elect not to remove the basketball pad and approve additional funding from the reserve.

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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    Hopefully the Town Hall can be saved, however, knowing how the TH is laid out – the cost of providing public washrooms there would also be expensive – and for kids totally impractical. The problem with not placing washrooms on the playground is that the other locations mentioned are forcing children to cross the street twice on each trip to use them – hardly a safe alternative. Since the playground would not be heavily used during the winter months, seasonal washrooms would work. Adults in the downtown area do have many other alternatives – like the Marine Museum could be a convenient centrally located place for washroom visits.

  2. Paul Adamthwaite says:

    Clochemerle is in fact a pseudonym for Vaux-en-Beaujolais which still has the public urinal (now moved from the public square to private property — a commercial wine cellar — as advertising.) When I was at university (not far away but more than half a century ago) it was in its original public position, dilapidated, but still a “tourist attraction” with comedic value. The book, satirical, covers a unilateral decision by the Mayor, Monsieur Piéchut, to install ‘une pissotière’ contrary to many levels of public opinion.

    In Picton, there are (of course, and thank goodness) differing opinions. Toilet facilities are generally accepted as a near-necessity for the town centre, their location is contentious. I have yet to find anyone who is happy with putting toilets in a children’s playground, and there appears to be growing support for retaining the old Town Hall (see the Gazette poll last week, 85% favourable) which would allow a year round, not seasonal, solution. And there are heritage considerations, theoretically the footprint and roofline of a protected building are exactly that: protected. If Benson Hall was a private residence in the Heritage District, rather than a municipal one, the chances of a Heritage Permit are about zero.

    As to delays, the municipality started at least as far back as June 2015, nearly two and a half years ago. The first tendering (i.e. official recognition of design parameters) was five weeks ago. This particular “thread” started nine days ago. It’s hardly surprising that public opinions are only just starting to emerge, either for or against. We just beg to differ with yours.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    I am in support of building the public washrooms. I find the reason for the delay and opposition to be without valid reasons.

  4. Gary says:

    Are you saying there is a delay for absolutely no reason or that the building of public washrooms is for absolutely no reason???

  5. Dennis Fox says:

    olmnonthmtn – so what is your point? The original reference to Clochemerle was only an attempt to deflect from the more serious issue of delaying the building of a public washroom for absolutely no reason. Sorry the reference to poor literature does nothing to assist the decision needed.

  6. olmnonthmtn says:

    FYI Dennis
    “Clochemerle is a French satirical novel. The book is a comic work, satirising the conflicts between Catholics and Republicans in the French Third Republic by telling the story of the installation of a urinal in Clochemerle’s village square.”

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    Paul – As you well know, Clochemerle was a fictional place in France, so I’m not sure what your reference means in relation to this topic. What I do know is that all the upset over public washrooms borders on the sublime and the claims of gangs and violence are about as real as Clochemerle. Let’stalk facts and reality – if Bloomfield can accommodate public washrooms in their downtown, why can’t Picton?

  8. Paul Adamthwaite says:

    Dennis — I’m not privy to all the details, but maybe this is a continuation of Clochemerle?

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    Once a development is bogged down because of toilets, you have to know there is a problem, caused by a lot of BS coming from somewhere. The question is – from where?

  10. Paul Adamthwaite says:

    The earliest document that we have showing the toilets is Wentworth Project # 04-2015, dated 2015-06-07, drawing L1. The tender 2017-EDW-62 for the toilets is dated October-11-17, closing 31 October, extended to 6 November.

    The tender does include mentions of “year round … provisions shall also be made for winterizing” and “electric baseboard heating”, but we were verbally advised by a knowledgeable municipal employee that cleaning and maintenance would prove difficult except during the summer season (roughly Victoria Day to Labour Day.) We made this point in writing to Council and staff on 30 April 2017.

    We have also, on multiple occasions, suggested the new King Street parking lot to several Councilors and staff. Water and sewers were available prior to demolition of the Midtown Motors building.

    Paul Adamthwaite
    Naval Marine Archive

  11. Paul Cole says:

    The Community Development Director and his staff obviously overlooked some key issues in my opinion hopefully they can recover and get the project back on track. I think having these new public restrooms in the new parking area would make it available for both visitors to the park and tourist using the new parking lot it would also be more visible for any safety concerns that have been mentioned, just another option to consider I suppose. And you are right Susan these oversights end up pushing projects over budget costing taxpayers in the long run…

  12. Marnie says:

    Building this Taj Mahal of washrooms is one thing but who will maintain them? Vandalism is not some far-fetched notion. Those who express concerns about the undesirable activities that can occur in parks are not that far off the mark. Check out the recent front page Gazette story about the local man who picks up needles in local spaces, some of them parks.

  13. Susan says:

    Why have a rejuvenated park without washrooms? In fairness it seems like this has been poorly planned and now a rush to grab $133,000 funding by upcoming March deadline. Not an easy task to redevelop à park in the winter. Yes, a ball has bèen dropped. Reminds me of the $30,000,000 waste plant that is now a nightmare.

  14. Paul Cole says:

    I’m pretty sure the studies and plans for the restrooms were completed before the RFP’s went out for the Old Town Hall. Shouldn’t checking for any conflicts like right of ways been investigated right off the bat? And why not consider locating the new restrooms in the new parking lot across from Benson Hall seems feasible to me….

  15. Susan says:

    Well you did muddy the waters! Besides hitting on a Director you are pushing for washrooms in a surplus building that may be sold. Until that surplus decision is made they can’t even consider any renovations.

  16. Paul Cole says:

    I must have upset someone a post was deleted in regards to our Community Development director and municipal staff..Hmmm

  17. Susan says:

    You can’t expand washroom facilities at the Town Hall as it may very well end up in private hands. Would be foolish to invest those upgrades and then dispose of the property.

  18. Paul Cole says:

    I think Mr.Adamthwaite has an excellent solution/compromise to the $94k washroom facilities upgrading and expanding facilities at the old Town Hall is a no brainer. And when you consider the park entrance beside The Victory is pretty much a back door entrance that money could be used to beautify an entrance either on Ross St or King St.

  19. Paul Adamthwaite says:

    Guest: (I don’t believe we’ve met) First, please remember that the toilets planned for the playground are only seasonal — they will be closed (winterized) from early/mid October to mid April (weather dependent.) The Town Hall is open/heated year round, and for much less than $94,137.14, some form of extended access hours could be envisaged. As to attaching them to The Victory, we are open seven days a week, and you would be surprised at the number of “visitors” who only come here for washroom facilities.

    Mike: your points are valid, but risk avoidance is an integral part of community well being. It would be terrible to see a child hurt playing with, or falling on, a used drug needle. And that’s not the only risk…

    I would add that education and assistance are far more important and effective than repression “after the fact.” There are a number of community programmes, mostly underfunded, some lesser known or with inevitable waiting lists, that work in this direction. Also, please see the editorial in this week’s Gazette. We ourselves have a number of initiatives for younger people, and have worked with youth groups and individuals for many years.

    Paul Adamthwaite
    Naval Marine Archive

  20. Mike says:

    Instead of drawing the conclusion that all this nasty activity will take place – a place where children should be playing on equipment and some basketball, and our seniors should stroll through without fear … we should be having the conversation about why this is so? Why are we accepting this as the conclusion instead of talking about how to protect our citizens from this unlawful behaviour? It sounds as though we are all just throwing our hands up and allowing it to happen? What about neighbourhood watches, what about a police officer takes a walk through once and a while, what about installing security cameras and better lighting?

    If money is the issue, give up on the bathroom, stick with portapotties, and give the kids a basketball course – then maybe they’ll have something to do instead of creating all this trouble that we assume they will be doing…

  21. Guest says:

    You are seriously concerned about shady dealings going on near the bathrooms?!! The town hall although nearby isn’t open all the time nor is it easy with a stroller. The public washrooms at ground level in both Bloomfield and Wellington have no issues with crime or drugs. I think it’s a silly concern. Better idea would be to have the public washroom attached to the Marine Archives on Main Street!!

  22. Paul Adamthwaite says:

    Gary — They asked some good questions. The first round of discussion showed a majority of Councilors concerned about multiple aspects (tardiness, lack of clarity, lack of heritage permits, safety, etc) but when it came to the vote, only two “naes” and the remainder voting to increase the budget and keep their fingers crossed that it can all be completed by 31 March next year to avoid loss of the federal $133,000.

    The two Wentworth tenders that were accepted, subject to final design, Heritage Permits and OPP consultation, have “completion” as “18-19” and “18-20” weeks from commencing. This is going to be very tight for 31 March 2018, particularly for pouring concrete in cold weather.

    Paul Adamthwaite

  23. Gary says:

    What was Councils response to your deputation?

  24. Paul Adamthwaite says:

    A few points: the Barker farmhouse, built circa 1810-1815, was originally located on Main Street, served as Post Office for sixty or so years until it was rolled on logs back to King Street and rotated to face North. Major portions are original, but the porches were added later. Renamed Benson after a later owner, it is now publicly (municipal) owned and subject to heritage protection twice — as an individual building (2010, municipal bylaw 2678), and as part of Benson Park (2013, Heritage Conservation District, bylaw 3286), both bylaws being under the Ontario Heritage Act.

    The right-of-way was very clearly researched and documented by the Municipal lawyers (Templeman Menninga, 17 October 2007, for the PEC Planning Dept.) and agreed with our legal due diligence when we bought The Victory in 2006. In a nutshell, since 1896 it has been, and is recorded on all relevant titles, as a fifteen foot right-of-way between Main Street and Benson Park for “vehicles and beasts of burden” and must remain totally unobstructed for vehicular access. It constitutes access for fire, police and ambulance vehicles, and is the access to our parking lot and loading dock — we even have 18-wheelers that back up there.

    As to the “expensive” public toilets, planned to be built onto “heritage protected” Benson Hall (a private property owner would probably be turned down flat requesting such an addition to a heritage property) it seriously encroaches into the children’s playground that is extremely popular year round. However, many of us are seriously concerned that the installation of public toilets in the children’s playground has multiple connotations, all negative, alarming and disconcerting, all potentially detrimental to community safety, with ensuing repercussions. By creating an obscured area behind the toilets, together with three toilet stalls, loitering, inappropriate photography, drug dealing and use, sexual activities, and possible predators are being pandered to. We have on multiple occasions reminded the municipality that there are existing washroom facilities, less than a hundred yards away, at the old Town Hall.

    Paul Adamthwaite
    Naval Marine Archive

  25. Gary says:

    Thanks. I wondered about that as I know Benson Hall well but had never heard of Barker House.

  26. Marnie says:

    The Barker house is Benson Hall. It is one of the oldest houses in the county, Gary.

  27. Phil Everhardus says:

    I can see it now. Rowdy teenagers playing pickle ball at all hours of the night.

  28. Chuck says:

    Why would staff tender a walkway that was in violation of a right of way? This baffles me. Was no research on titles completed?

  29. Gary says:

    I’ll take portapotties as sarcasm. Yes the price for washrooms seems high and I am not certain it is specialty for a landscape company. Hard to believe no local construction businesses bid on this. And where is the Barker House located in the park? Never heard of it.

  30. Marnie says:

    That is a ridiculous price for a washroom. Something more basic would serve just as well. It will likely be vandalized sooner or later. Small wonder the project is over budget with such grandiose ideas.

  31. Jan says:

    Wow that’s quite an expensive washroom. Maybe porta-potties should have been considered!

  32. Gary says:

    Just curious if it is the case, why right of way issues are just coming to light now and not addressed prior to the construction plan.

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