By Mark Squibb | Vol. 31 No. 50 (February 27 2019)
A plot of land purchased in 2014 may soon be seeing some development this summer.
For four years, a plot of land located near Jungle Jim’s and Dominion remained empty, save for the occasional town worker tasked with maintaining the area when the grass was not covered in snow.
The land was originally purchased by the Town of Conception Bay South for $953,075.
Yearly maintenance for the land has been costing the town approximately $4,515 per year on things such as lawn care and building maintenance.
Although the purchase predates his time on council, Conception Bay South Mayor Terry French said from what he understands, the original intent was for the land to be used as a park. The initial scope of the project has not changed, but there has been plenty of time to iron out the specifics, and French hopes to see some progress made this year.
“My understanding is that a lot of the oceanfront, or access to the ocean, has become hard to find, and getting harder to find as time goes on. When they first went to purchase it, it was agreed that this would be a beautiful area for some kind of community park,” French said. “It would be a way for the public to access salt water and the bay.”
French added the purpose of the oceanfront access would not be for large-scale boats, given the town has a number of places for residents to dock boats already. Instead, it would be geared more toward non-motorized watercraft.
Right now, council has a draft concept plan for the area as it moves toward a more concrete list of goals for the land. French said there are some things they hope to get done this year when the weather allows for more work. This includes enhancements to some of the walking trails, as well as an inclusive playground.
French said the idea is to eventually create an open space where residents can take a kayak or canoe to launch from a small wharf area. But he cautioned, those plans are for further down the road, and unlikely to be done this year.
“Following those things, given that the finances allow for it, we’re hoping to see things like a splash pad, and things like that set up there,” said French.
Finances also seem to be at the root of the reason why the land has gone for so long with such little development. French explained the town is now in a better position to get work started.
“I can’t speak for the previous council, but I’m thinking it comes down to finances,” he said. “We’re fortunate now that we have two funds that we can access so that it won’t be coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets. We currently have the harbour contingency fund, which came from the federal government when we took over the inside harbour.”
The other fund is the Town’s open space account. When developers build subdivisions, they either have to install a playground or make a financial contribution to that account if it’s deemed that the subdivision in question isn’t in need of a playground.
French said that thanks to these two different pools of money, the park should see more progress over the coming years.