Many residents of the town of Hallville want answers after waiting years for a new proposed park to be built. Township of North Dundas Council had a very busy meeting on June 21, spanning more than three hours, and one item on the agenda was an address by Hallville resident Mary Cook, who acted as a representative of herself and fellow residents to bring her concerns to the Mayor and Council.
In a document presented to members of Council at the meeting, Mary outlines the core concerns. “The residents of Hallville have been patiently awaiting a promised new community park since 2008,” the document reads. “We have watched other communities in North Dundas receive funding for upgrades, new items, theme parks, and infrastructure over these many years. The [Township] took down our small local park (installed by residents in the early 90s) back in 2018 with no replacement. Our community outdoor rink has been left in disrepair. Our children have had nowhere to play.”
The document goes on to describe how a new park was announced for Hallville in May of 2021, with a government grant of $2.7 million. However, a proposed public meeting to discuss design plans never occurred, and the community soon found out that “no plans were going forth”.
At the previous meeting of Council on June 14, Council did in fact receive an update on the plans for a new park in Hallville from Director of Recreation and Culture, Meaghan Meerburg. Director Meerburg explained that the $2.7 million in grant funding cannot be used to cover the cost of a landscape architecture consultant who was hired before the grant funding was confirmed. She asked Council to authorize paying the consulting firm a remaining balance of $2,500 so that the project can proceed. Deputy Mayor Allan Armstrong was quick to give an opinion on the matter, saying, “It’s a no brainer, 2,500 bucks is nothing to figure out what’s going on down there. We have to keep moving forward.”
The payment to the firm will result in the release of two design proposals for the Hallville park space, with both plans featuring a ball diamond, a soccer field, and potentially even a splash pad. Council authorized Director Meerburg to make the final payment to the firm.
At the June 21 meeting, Mary pointed out that Council is aware of the significant population increases in Hallville in recent years. She expressed concern that no plans will go forward in 2022. A petition of 175 signatures, signed by members of households representing a combined total of 218 children, was presented to Council demanding answers. Mary’s report also expresses a safety concern about walking along County Road 1 within the town of Hallville, due to speeding vehicles, increased traffic, deep ditches, a lack of sidewalks, and poor lighting. Ultimately, Mary requested a committed plan of action from Council, including open communication, as well as a request to know how the Township and the United Counties can work together to address safety concerns.
In answering Mary, Mayor Tony Fraser first pointed out that the issues with the outdoor rink can possibly be addressed within the plans for a new park. He also told Mary that he and Deputy Mayor Armstrong have walked County Road 1 in Hallville in past years, and they noticed that the area was in disrepair. He confirmed that the Township has been in touch with the Counties regarding the safety concerns on County Road 1.
Deputy Mayor Armstrong also addressed Mary, telling her that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the Hallville park project. Mayor Fraser added that the Township is excited about the park project, and that it will be the largest amount of money the Township has ever spent on a park. He also admitted that communication regarding the project could have been better. “There has been a failure on our end, and I will take ownership on that,” he said. The Mayor made a commitment toward improving communication as the project proceeds.
The next update on the park will be heard at the July 12 Council meeting.