Our Market Square
In 2013, Council ordered a study on Market Square. The fountain hasn’t worked in years. A Master Landscape Plan was prepared by Scott Wentworth and presented to Council on June 25, 2013. The Minutes are as follows:
Scott Wentworth provided Council with a phased concept plan for landscaping at the front and back of the Town Hall in Market Square, which would include:
• repairs to the front steps of Town Hall;
• a small park area at the west side of Market Square along Centre Street;
• angled parking in Market Square;
• transforming the water fountain space into a planted bed;
• tree replacement with species more suited for the location;
• planting boxes; and
• a covered area for market vendors
David Morgan, General Manager of Infrastructure Services advised that in order to begin the phased work in 2013, staff would propose to reallocate 2013 capital budget funds from any projects that are completed under budget. Raymond Callery, CAO advised that the initial priority for 2013 will be the repair of the front steps of the Town HaIl, and moving forward, public comments will be sought for the proposed landscaping concept plan.
The plan was presented at a public meeting on November 13, 2013.
The plan would have retained much of the parking. Most of the parking is reserved for Town staff.
Some of the Heritage Committee questioned whether this was a waste of a precious resource. Geoff Webster stated:
Frankly, I think all of the parking should be removed and it make it into a real square, as has been done in Kingston & elsewhere. The fact that town employees use most of the spaces, without payment is ridiculous. By removing the parking a really unique square can be developed which would warrant the Sir John name. This will be a task to convince some, to have the parking removed, but it would be in the best interest of all concerned and was proposed in the renovations of the town hall in 1972 , by Wilf Sorenson. It was turned down then because of staff needs for space etc.The plans should be made public with more input, before finalizing any development and it should be tendered by at least a minimum of 3 contractors. The square is a focal point and a center for interaction for our community and all efforts should be made to insure it is re-developed in a cost effective way to achieve the greatest design and functionality as is possible. It is too important not to take the time and effort to make this a canter point for all of the town’s people and for the all of country, which Sir. John represented.
Hubert Hogle, who attended the meeting, wrote a lengthy e-mail to the Town questioning the use of Market Square for parking and pointing out that many other options existed for new public parking lots on John, East and Mill Streets at minimal cost.
In any case, this study sits in the clerk’s office with all the other studies that have been done over the years and never acted on. And the public is never told what all these studies cost. As Geoff Webster says:
“Politics is that art of delaying decisions until they become irrelevant.”
As our director Dennis Mills pointed out, this and other projects in Town might have qualify for the Canada 150 grant announced in May 2015 for up to 50% of cost. But despite the endless studies, we never seem to have any “shovel-ready” projects and this one certainly isn’t shovel-ready.
In 2014, The Heritage Committee proposed naming Market Square “Sir. John A. McDonald Market Square”. The proposal was sent to council and approved. Napanee Beaver Story from April 2014.
So far we’ve yet to see even a sign posted.
An open house on Proposed Repairs to the Front of Town Hall was held on December 16, 2015 at SPC and comments were presented to council on January 12, 2016. Scott Wentworth’s plans were on display, but the only issue being addressed was the condition of walkway and steps in front of the Town Hall which included cracked and spalding front steps; unsafe areas next to the steps; cracked and uneven cement walking areas and Uneven paving stones.
The open house was not well advertised. A single ad was in the Guide on December 10. Nevertheless 20 people showed up and several submitted comments.
Everyone agreed that the walking surface had to be made safe and the mayor and deputy-mayor agreed a long term plan for market square improvements was needed rather than band-aide solutions to address some immediate concern.
If done properly, redeveloping our market square is a large and challenging project which will require significant investment, public and private, over a number of years.
Part of any master plan should involve getting projects “shovel ready” so that we can finally start getting funding from the Province and Ottawa like other municipalities do. Ottawa has promised new spending on infrastructure over the next 4 years and other municipalities are lining up.
Please let us have your comments on this issue or the others facing council. Send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hubert Hogle 532-3672
Dennis Mills 354-6375
Arthur Ronald 354-4291
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