| Mar 29, 2007

Feature Article - March 29, 2007

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Feature Article - March 29, 2007

Fire hall aquatic centre gains favour

As demolition crews prepare the take down the historic fire hall in Sharbot Lake, thinking about what’s to be done with the site in the future has coalesced around a proposal to turn it into a swimming pool/aquatic Centre to serve the entire township.

The project, which is being touted by staff after an earlier proposal to establish paid parking at the site was poorly received, came about as the result of an unsolicited proposal from Aquatic Enterprises, a consulting firm from Ottawa headed by former Canadian Olympian Graham Limpert. Limpert gained fame throughout Canada when he won a bronze medal in the 150 metre breaststroke event at the 1988 Olympic games in Seoul, Korea, an event that was overshadowed by the Ben Johnson doping scandal.


He presented a report at the tale end of a Central Frontenac Council budget meeting late on Monday night, and, although council was initially overwhelmed by the $4 million price tag of the project, they eventually decided to ask for a more detailed response at a hastily organized special meeting, which will be held this Sunday at an undisclosed location.

The proposal includes a 12.5 metre long pool, which Limpert admitted was shorter than normal, but “acceptable in a tight space such as the one we are working with”, as well as dry and wet saunas, showers, an aqua-fit centre, a small railway museum and other amenities.

“This is a great idea. We can have swimming programs year round for children and youth, and it will give a much needed boost to our tourist base in the shoulder seasons,” said one councillor.

Graham Limpert told council that he has approached Frontenac County with the idea, and he presented a supporting letter Counties’ Economic/Statistics Department, which stated, in part, that the “County of Frontenac finds this proposal exciting, and has agreed to seek a grant to commission a demographic study of the region, to look at the cultural, social, economic and fiscal impacts such a facility would have on the County as a whole.”

“Whenthis came up at County Council, they were not been forthcoming in terms of funding,” admitted the Mayor, “they seem to want Central Frontenac to carry the whole load, which is short sighted in my view, but I’m working on them.”

“We certainly couldn’t fund this in one year,” said one of the Oso Councillors,” but maybe if we amortized it over 8 years we would only have to pay $500,000 this year.”

As Council began mulling over where they could find an extra $500,000 in this year’s budget, which equals the entire annual road construction budget, a proposal came from an unlikely source.

“We could defer the Mountain Grove Fire hall,” said Councillor Norm Guntensperger,” I know that will be controversial, but we have waited so long that one year won’t make that much difference as long as we get a firm commitment for ’08.”

“Are you sure the firefighters will agree to that?” asked another Councillor.

“I’ll have to sell it to them. I’ve been as strong an advocate for the fire hall as anyone else, but as I’ve sat on Council these last few months, I’ve come to realize that what’s good for Sharbot Lake really is good for Central Frontenac,” Guntensperger replied. “I’d rather have a swimming pool in Mountain Grove, where we don’t even have a lake, but that really isn’t in the cards.”

Council accepted Graham Limpert’s proposal for information purposes and directed staff to explore funding options and bring back a report to Sunday’s special meeting, which will be held in camera.

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