A local service club’s plans to develop a park on the outskirts of town have been squashed, says a member of the Pictou and Area Lions Club.
Peter Boyles said following a public meeting Wednesday that it was clear based on information provided by town council there is no way the club can develop the park in a quarry off Browns Point Road.
“The town gave its decision and we respect that,” he said.
The club’s plan was to enhance the property in behind the town barn by adding a walkway all around the pond, and install benches and tables, barbecues and electric service. It would also have planted a variety of greenery.
The idea first came to light earlier this year when the club was looking for a legacy project. It has hosted several fisherama events at the quarry in Pictou, located near a light industrial area.
Pictou Mayor Jim Ryan, who attended the public meeting with the rest of council, said the town is interested in developing the land with commercial businesses to help increase its tax base.
It also has heard concerns from neighbouring business owners who don’t feel a park is a right fit for the area considering the use of heavy equipment and other industrial concerns near the quarry.
“We believe it is an important piece of property and we can use it for development,” said Ryan. “We believe we will have an opportunity in that area.”
During its initial talks with the Lions Club, the town had stipulated that if a lease was signed between the two parties, a 90-day pullout agreement would have to be put in place in case the town did have a someone interested in purchasing or developing the land.
Boyles said in the past that the Lions Club could not continue with its plans if this clause remained because it would be difficult to invest if the project could all end with 90 days.
Ryan said in addition to potential development, there are also concerns from the light industrial businesses in the area in terms of safety and traffic volumes.
“It’s their properties and they went there for a reason,” Ryan said. “They operate businesses in those areas.”
Residents at the meeting in favour of the park proposal said having a green space there would not only be a benefit to the town, providing people with a place to relax and fish from stocked ponds, but would also improve the look of the surrounding area.
They said businesses could put up fences to address safety concerns and to keep people off the properties.
Andrew Marshall, who owns North Shore Ballast, told those in attendance that he moved to Brown’s Point because it was an ideal location for his business as a light industrial area.
- currently owns land that extends to about 10 feet from quarry pond while neighbouring businesses own land that ends into the wooded area near the quarry.
Marshall said no one approached him with the plans to develop the park or asked about his concerns as a business owner. He said he has had people dump their garbage over the bank of his property as well as thefts from his business. Having more people in an unsupervised area only heightens these concerns.
Some residents criticized town council for not doing enough to promote economic growth in the town in other areas, such as the roundabout – to which one councillor took exception.
“To say nothing is going on, you have me ticked,” said Coun. Malcolm Houser, who added the town is currently reviewing proposals for land near the roundabout and has businesses interested in property on Pine Tree Road as well as the downtown core and former CN station.
“This town doesn’t have a significant amount of land to increase its tax base,” he said.
Coun. Eric Daley echoed Houser’s comments by saying that a park is a nice idea, but “parks don’t pay bills.
“We have a lot of bills to pay,” he said. “We are trying to grow. If we can’t find ways to increase our tax base then we are in trouble.”
Lions member Shawn McNamara said club members thought the park was something the town would appreciate and it was going to speak with businesses after details were worked out.
“We wanted to see how far we could go and then go talk to you all,” he told the business people in the room.
Council said it appreciated the club’s interest in the town and its residents, but pointed out there are many other current facilities that could use the club’s assistance such as other parks or the pool.
“At first blush, I thought it was an interesting idea and I understand the Lions Club wanting to do a legacy project,” said Coun. Dan Currie, “but then I thought about some potential in the future to utilize the property to benefit the town and I thought this doesn’t fit anymore. I thought maybe the Lions Club can look at another legacy project in the town.”