Spray park location still up in the air
Topic still open for public discussion, feedback
Debate over the location for a future Town of St. Paul spray park came hard and fast at a meeting last Thursday night, as a smattering of town residents came to voice their opinions on where the park should go.
Resident Amie Anderson came in support of putting the spray equipment at Lagasse Park; Anderson has started a Facebook group in support of that location, which has nearly 700 group members, with people saying the setting was nice, there was a park nearby, trees for shade and gazebos for family picnics. Others noted the smell of the lake and the may flies in spring were downsides.
Residents living near Lakeshore, who also attended the meeting, had their own reasons for opposing that location. One resident said of the park, “People think it’s beautiful.” Having children run around, with the resulting noise and more vehicles, would disturb the tranquility of the area, she felt. A fence would have to be erected around the spray park to keep young children inside, and residents felt that this would ruin the look of Lagasse and result in a decrease to property values of Lakeshore Drive houses.
The St. Paul and District Lions, the local Elks Lodge, and St. Paul Abilities Network have raised $116,000 to date for the project, while the Town of St. Paul will be providing land for the project, and will donate up to $60,000 if necessary, so that the project can apply for a matching federal grant of $175,000. The project is estimated to cost just over $350,000, but this does not take into account extra costs such as fences, washrooms, picnic tables or whatever else is needed depending on the chosen location. “It could become a $600,000 project,” said spray park committee chair Tim Bear.
On the grant application, the town’s staging area by the Iron Horse Trail was put down as the location for the spray park, since it has facilities such as a park and washrooms, but this location is not binding, said the town’s recreation director, Gary Ward. This option created questions of access for people without vehicles, with resident Alice Herperger saying a central location was definitely a factor to consider.
Resident Tammy Elkow suggested St. Laurent park near the town office was central and would make a much better choice. “You are not disturbing a residential area either,” she said. Bear acknowledged this was a good suggestion, saying that St. Laurent had not even been considered.
The RCMP park was another proposed option, but looks unlikely because of infrastructure issues, said Ward.
“Every location has its positives and negatives,” Bear said. He said the service groups spearheading the project don’t want to create controversy or bad feelings with its location choice. “Somehow it ruins the whole effort.” At the same time, he said he didn’t want to see the project die, because St. Paul is one of the few Albertan communities without a splash park, and it is a nice community feature and a way to attract and retain young families to live in the town.
The Town of St. Paul will take care of maintenance and supply the water for the spray park, with Ward saying that the use of the park will determine how much town water is used; one estimate pegged use of a major centre’s spray park at 5,000 gallons a day, he said. The water will likely be collected and used to water flower baskets and serve other town needs.
“Nothing is off the table, as of right now,” said Ward of potential locations. He encouraged people to come out to Community Awareness Night, on Sept. 13, at which the splash park committee will run a booth and collect feedback. There will also be an open house on Thursday, Sept. 27 for discussion on the splash park; details on the open house are yet to be determined.
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