| May 21, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - May 21, 2009 Public Meeting about "The Point"by Wilma Kenny

Over 40 Sydenham residents came to the township hall last week for a meeting to discuss concerns and planning for the Point. All agreed that the Point was a valuable community resource, but one with a number of issues that needed to be addressed.

The meeting was called by the Greater Sydenham Community Association (GSCA), and chaired by Lorie Reid and township works manager Mark Segsworth.

In introducing the evening, Segsworth noted that since the popularity of the “Bubba Bowl”, there had been a growing interest on the part of area parents to have permanent lights installed at the football field. Concurrently, the GSCA has pinpointed a need for various improvements at the Point, and in order to develop a vision for the park, obtained a grant from the Frontenac Community Development Centre to hire architect Bruce Downey to develop a “concept drawing”. As part of this process, there had been consultation with various interested groups, including the Loughborough Recreation Committee, the Women's Institure, the Legion, and immediate neighbours.

This was the first public meeting.

History of the Park - Officially called "Loughborough Memorial Recreation Centre" but popularly known as "the Point", the park has been a community picnic and swimming area ever since the area was settled.

Until 1947 the Point was part of a privately-owned farm. At that time, the Sydenham Women's Institute (WI) and the Sydenham Board of Trade took an option to buy the property.

In 1971, the WI transferred the property to Loughborough Township, with the understanding that it would be kept in perpetuity “for the benefit and enjoyment of all its citizens”.

Present Use - Every summer, the Loughborough Recreation Committee hires staff to teach swimming lessons and run a children's recreation program at The Point. There is a (lighted) ball diamond, a tennis court that is now used by skateboarders, a boat launch site, bandstand, football field - also used for soccer, and a running track.

The park is used for general swimming and picnicking, Canada Day celebrations, Sydenham Canoe Club regattas, and will be the headquarters for a triathlon event this summer. It's also the site of the Sydenham water treatment plant, and the property abuts the township hall and library on the northwest, and the Loughborough schoolyard to the south. Several years ago, the township agreed to lease the football field to Sydenham High School for a nominal annual fee. In return, the school agreed to maintain the football field and track (installing underground watering system, sowing and sodding as needed, and mowing.) However, the football field remains part of the township's property.

Maintenance - Through its volunteer recreation committee, the township hires a private contractor to mow the grass and do basic maintenance. This summer, the committee will be hiring students to do extra upkeep on this and three other township parks. The organizers of special events are responsible for providing extra toilet facilities when deemed necessary, and for all clean-up related to their events.

In spite of all this, vandalism, littering and lack of adequate toilet facilities and change rooms are ongoing concerns. Vandalism in the area has extended to destruction of the picnic tables at the LPS outdoor classroom.

At the public meeting, several residents asserted that the vandalism and littering were worse during the daylight hours when school was in session, but were less during the summer, when there was more general use of the park. (It was noted that students have also held clean-up drives.)

The skateboard area in particular seemed to be a focus for noise, graffiti, destruction and littering. Mark Segsworth, in pointing out that the township had no parks committee per se, said that the recreation committee was made up of volunteers, who should be commended for the enormous amount of time and work they devoted to organizing recreational events in the township.

Football Field Lights - Neighbouring residents dreaded having their properties subjected to such brilliant lights during summer, spring and fall evenings. They were concerned that Sydenham would become a centre for sports tournaments, and also expressed concern about the increased noise and traffic generated by night games.

Parents with children on football and soccer teams said night games would give more opportunities for working parents to watch their children play, and expressed willingness to help raise money to pay for the lights.

A soccer league representative said there were over 700 children in the area playing soccer, and although most teams don't use the Sydenham field at present, that would change, if it were lighted.

Others suggested the field was already in poor condition, and unable to accommodate heavier use.

Traffic - Neighbours expressed concern about traffic, particularly speeding and noise in the park and along Wheatley Street. Noon hours during the school year seem to generate particularly heavy motor traffic in the park.

The Beach - Not a natural beach, and heavily used during summer, the swim area often has too little sand and too many weeds.

Other Issues - The list of issues was long: is there interest in re-opening the tennis courts? Where and how can the skateboarders be accommodated? Are there better locations in South Frontenac for playing fields? How can we provide available, clean washroom and change room facilities and protect them from vandalism? What about building a meeting-room/conference space above the washrooms? Where might a permanent storage space for football equipment be located? Can the 'passive-use' spaces be improved by developing walkways?Could the school parking facilities be used more for large events at the Point? Can the water and power supplies be centralized?

Now What? - In summary, Lorie Reed said the community association would review the concerns and issues, and put together a proposal to go to the recreation committee, who in turn could make recommendations to council.

She reminded the group that while no proposal could please everybody, but clearly nobody seemed happy about the status quo, either. She said the present design concept was available to anyone who wished to read it. For more information, or to contact the GSCA, go to their website: tgsca.ca

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.