| Mar 10, 2011

Council approves Denbigh Schoolhouse ‘concept’ plan

A 14-member community advisory committee has put together a plan for the redevelopment of the former Denbigh Schoolhouse as a community hub.

The concept plan, which was accepted in principle by Addington Highlands Council at a meeting on February 23, is anchored by a medical clinic, which will be constructed this spring and occupied as a satellite clinic by the Lakelands Family Health Team.

Currently the Family Health Team (FHT) is offering services in the former administrative offices in the building, and no other renovations to the building will happen until the FHT clinic is completed and occupied in the space that at one time was occupied by four classrooms.

The main elements of the concept plan are: to relocate the Denbigh library to a new location across the hallway from the medical clinic; to maintain use of the gym in the building and add banquet facilities to it; and to build a 390 square foot kitchen adjacent to the gym.

Other possible uses that could be housed in the facility are an ambulance base, which would have to be constructed as an addition to the building; a potential drop-in centre / coffee area / gift shop next to the library; a meeting room-classroom; space for the local food bank; and two or three possible locations for commercial office or retail space.

In addition to fitting all of these possible uses into the building, the advisory committee has put together a sequential implementation plan. The building will be called the Addington Highlands Community Centre – Denbigh (AHCC – Denbigh).

According to Addington Highlands Council member Tony Fritsch, who chaired the Community Advisory Committee, the 14-member group “really bonded well as a group to come up with this concept plan. We wanted to then look at the way the project could move forward so the committee, and the community, can see that this will take time, and commitment, to come to life. We didn't want the community to expect everything to be built this spring or summer.”

Among the first priorities is changing the entrance to the building so that is accessed off Highway 28, which involves a new doorway and parking area. The gym will then be oriented to the front entrance. It will not take that much to being the gym back into use, and it is hoped that will happen by the fall of this year. Giving the gym the capacity to function as a large meeting hall will be the next step. To give it the ability to serve as a banquet hall will take longer, because it will require the construction of a 390 square foot kitchen, which will take time and money. The tentative date for the kitchen construction is the fall of 2012.

Moving the library is a priority for this year, and with the effort of the library board it is envisioned that a design and cost estimate can be completed in time for a Trillium Fund application at the end of June. If that application is successful and all the necessary funding can be put in place, construction could start this fall or early in 2012.

The idea of moving the Denbigh ambulance base, however, is something that will be decided by Lennox and Addington County. The emergency services department of the county, which runs the ambulance service, will be looking at the building, and if an addition is built to accommodate an ambulance base adjacent to the clinic, it would be funded by the county. That would be a decision of L&A County Council.

Other potential commercial uses of the building are dependent on business people coming forward with investment proposals.

It is unclear at this point what impact the concept plan will have on the 2011 Addington Highlands budget, which will be considered by council later this month. Money could be put in reserve for the project if council decides to do so.

One thing the advisory committee did not do is make any recommendations regarding the existing Denbigh Hall. The committee did make the following statement, however, in their final report: “There is a strong attachment to the Community Hall. As the AHCC evolves over the next couple of years, it will become more apparent as to the options for this hall.”

One other thing that interested the committee was the idea of seniors' housing. Although the committee quickly realized this initiative would involve a completely separate facility and was thus out of their scope at this time, the community interest in this could lead to a new process.

Other items from Addington Highlands Council – Council met for what ended up being one of the shortest meetings on record in Flinton on Monday, March 7. Reeve Henry Hogg had to leave early, and the agenda was light, so the meeting took less than 15 minutes (normally meetings range from 60 – 90 minutes).

Eythel Grant, the township appointee to Quinte Conservation, reported on a recent meeting. He said that Quinte had considered whether the Flinton dam would be a suitable location for a micro-hydro project, but the up front capital costs would outstrip potential revenues.

Deerock, Deerrock - Quinte calls the whole thing off Eythel Grant said that he had brought the Deerrock signage issue, a pet peeve of Councilor Helen Yanch, to the attention of Quinte staff. All of Quinte Conservation's signage and mapping used Deerock, and Yanch has pointed out for several years that the Lake is named Deer Rock not Dee Rock.

Grant reported that Quinte Conservation “will be looking at the historical record to see what the lake was called in the past, and in any event will not be making any changes until they do new mapping.”

“They can look as hard as they want,” said Yanch, “but it is called Deer rock.”


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