Paradise roundabout art turns heads

By Mark Squibb/February 17, 2022

Folks driving through the Topsail Road roundabout in Paradise over the weekend were greeted by an odd structure in the middle of the traffic circle.

Councillor Larry Vaters brought up the feature during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“The Topsail Road roundabout feature is designed to be a tribute to a former landmark of the town’s history, the Octagon Castle,” explained councillor Vaters.

The Castle was a popular resort built on the shore of Octagon Pond that burned to the ground in 1915, and the town announced its intention to construct the feature in December.

Still, folks out looking for last minute storm chips and valentine’s chocolate were surprised to see the strange, skeletal metal beams reaching up towards the sky — and some had questions.

“Some are wondering how much the feature will cost, and how and when it was funded, others are wondering if it will be a distraction to drivers, and what safety elements, such as lighting and sightlines, the town considered when designing and planning it,” said Vaters

Mayor Dan Bobbett gave councillor Deborah Quilty, the chairperson of the Infrastructure and Engineering committee, the floor.

“First of all, the roundabout centre feature is a part of the intersection improvement features that we are all aware of,” said Quilty.

As to funding, Quilty noted the cost of the entire roundabout project was $1.6 million, which was cost-shared 50/50 with the federal government. The roundabout feature comes with a price tag of $190,000, also cost-shared 50/50 with the federal government. She added that as far as she knows, funds allocated for a specific project cannot be used elsewhere.

Bobbett said the money funds could be reallocated, but there would be a lengthy process invovled.

As to safety concerns, Quilty said there were none.

She explained the roundabout was designed with safety in mind, and that based on all information the town has, there is no concern that the structure will pose any kind of safety concern.

Councillor Elizabeth Laurie added that residents have been requesting a piece of community art and that one person had actually suggested building a model of Octagon Castle in the centre of the roundabout.

“What you see is not what it’s going to look like, there’s a considerable amount of work that has to happen in that roundabout,” Laurie assured residents. “It’s going to be absolutely beautiful when it’s finished.”

She added that roundabout features are common, and actually promote safe driving.

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