At the March 27, 2023, meeting of City Council, delegates from the Cornwall Police Service and the Optimist Club of Cornwall requested the use of the land at 504 Fourth Street East (former Bob Turner/Joe St. Denis Field) for a teen-focused Cornwall Youth Space.
This week, the Department of Planning and Recreation returned to council with a report suggesting that the Cornwall Youth Space be developed at Lamoureux Park, Mattice Park, or a combination of the two instead.
In the audience once again were members of the Youth Advisory Committee, as well as the Optimist Club’s Terry Muir and members of the Cornwall Police Service.
The report states that while the Recreation Master Plan supports the development of teen-focused recreation amenities, the idea of creating a park exclusively for teens goes against the municipality’s goal of inclusivity.
Another reason for this redirection is the current state of the property at 504 Fourth Street East.
Administration found that the existing concrete slabs from the Bob Turner Memorial Centre and adjacent parking lot and tennis courts are in bad condition. They would need to be removed or replaced as part of any future development – at an estimated cost of $250,000.
Due of the refrigeration system that was used to maintain the ice at the Bob Turner, there could also be contaminated soil under the concrete slabs. This means an environmental assessment would most likely need to be completed before future development.
The main concern is that the cost of remediation and fixing up the property would use up most of the $600,000 grant applied for by the Cornwall Police Service, leaving little money to build the amenities desired by local youth.
Despite these concerns, the consensus was that Lamoureux and Mattice Parks are likely not appropriate alternatives for the proposed space. Rather than approve the report and its recommendations, council voted on a deferral so that they could take more time to speak with community stakeholders before making a decision.
“I think we need to engage all of our community partners whether that’s an open house or a town hall meeting,” said councillor Todd Bennett, “We’re only going to get one shot at doing this, this youth centre, and I don’t think we should rush into it. I think we should investigate all avenues to make sure it’s done correctly the first time.”