|Back to Home||Feature Article - August 16, 2012|
Public weighs in on multi-use center in Sharbot Lakeby Julie Druker
Photo: Brian Basterfield and Councilor Frances Smith unveil the proposed plan for a multi-use centre in Sharbot Lake
Over 60 people attended a public meeting at Oso hall on August 8 for the unveiling of a study and plans for a multi-use center that is proposed to be built adjacent to the Heritage Railway Park, where the K & P and Trans-Canada trails meet in front of the township offices on Elizabeth Street.
Brian Basterfield, of Basterfield and Associates Landscape Architects of Peterborough, made the power point presentation for the study team, which included his company, Lett Architects, and the Tourism Company. The goal of the public meeting was to gain community input. Basterfield said the three key pillars of the project were: recreation, the environment, and history.
He opened the presentation by defining the scope of the team's plan, which was two-fold. The first is to prepare a conceptual design for the multi-use facility, which would consist of a year-round trail center with accessible public washrooms and a public display/meeting area. The overall design, either in whole or in parts, would reflect a historical railroad theme. The second goal they set was to develop a business case that would identify how the proposed project could be initially financed and sustained in the future.
The goals for the proposed building plan were: 1) to create a commercial area to cater to year-round trail users, visitors and the community; 2) to increase the use and attractiveness of the two trails; 3) to help connect the lake and boat launch areas to the village; 4) to create a unique facility that can be utilized for other related uses and events; and 5) to create more parking for trail users and visitors. Other goals include creating a facility that will be energy efficient and that relies on innovative green energy technology.
The building appears as two stories from the outside but in fact is just one single floor. It boasts numerous windows, with a large covered area that surrounds it. Plans also include ample new parking, extensive landscaping and the realignment of the two trails so that they meet in a circular roundabout at the western end of the site. The trail section of the building would include a retail/lounge section measuring 17x43 feet and the larger section of the building, a multi-use room measuring 40x60 feet. “We see it as a large canopied space that provides shade and space for indoor and activities to occur, ” Basterfield explained.
He added that the proposed building could be broken down into two separate building phases. The first would be the completion of the trail head section, which would include public washrooms and a possible retail area. The second building phase would see the completion of the larger section of the building, the mutli-use area.
Judging by the reaction to the presentation, those in attendance seemed overwhelmingly in favor of such a building. The majority of questions that arose following the presentation were about financing. Councilor Frances Smith, who chairs the steering committee for the project, explained that the cost of the study was paid for by grants from the County of Frontenac and the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC) and that the actual building would be paid for by federal and/or provincial grants along with fundraising.
One member of the audience asked about the viability of a business plan and how this building might negatively affect other struggling businesses in the community; also whether this plan really represents the community moving forward, citing how work still needs doing in the community, like upgrading the washrooms at the beach.
At this point in the discussion Gary Giller, a member of the steering committee for the project and a board member with the Central Frontenac Railway Heritage Society, responded. “We've been exploring various uses for the building and have asked for the public's input as to what the building might house. I'm excited with what Brian and his team have come up with and personally I see this project taking a phased approach, beginning first with the trail centre section. At this point we are still looking to see what the rest of the building might house. And it could just be possible that we end up partnering with another group or groups in the community to move forward with the second phase.”
Sharbot Lake resident Ken Fisher, who uses the trail extensively for skiing in the winter, seemed pleased with the proposed plan.“I have met hundreds of people who are using these trails and right now there is absolutely nothing going on here for these people. I think the phase one stage of this proposal is a small investment and is the obvious next step.”
Councilor Frances Smith was pleased with the turn out at the meeting and said she felt that the plan was supported overall. “We are here looking for input, with the understanding that nothing has been written in stone. Yes, the financial question is indeed one very big question. But whatever happens we are hoping that partnerships with money, grants and fundraising will start us off. This is not a project for taxpayers and I think that is what people are worried about and is another reason why we are looking at phasing it in.”
As far as next steps go - the feedback will be gathered, the consultants will be consulted again, another public meeting will take place, and council will be briefed on the presentation.