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Shelby Behrens-Stevenson was before Huntsville Council on Monday night asking municipal leaders to reconsider the redesign of Kent Park.
She invited council to envision something more unique for the parkette, rather than the current design which she said was underwhelming.
“Kent Park sits at a busy intersection, welcoming everybody to the downtown. It’s the first thing you see when you’re coming from the highway to the downtown core. So, looking at the approved design there’s a lot to be desired. It consists of a giant granite circle that I believe will be a heating pad with the sun beating down on it in the summer and it will take years for the trees to fully mature to be able to provide shade,” she said.
The current design is generic and something that could be found in the middle of Mississauga, she added. “And the stage, we already have a stage at River Mill Park. The area is far better suited to have an event… and when the stage isn’t being used down there it’s simply just a place for kids to congregate.”
Behrens-Stevenson said the current design of the park seems to cater mostly to summer visitors but there are year-round activities downtown. She invited council to think about a warm and welcoming place that represents Muskoka and welcomes visitors downtown all year long. She suggested a permanent covered structure, which could provide shade in the summer and shelter from snow and rain during the cooler months. She also spoke of incorporating a business directory in the design as well as a gas-powered fire feature.
“I know that fire sounds kind of risky so what I’m thinking of is like the centennial flame,” she said. “It’s a gas-powered flame, it would have timers on it. It could be covered by glass or iron as to minimize any potential liability. I think what’s more Muskoka than sitting around a fire with friends and family, to me that says community.”
Behrens-Stevenson also read out comments about the design from a few business stakeholders in the area and council seemed to warm to the idea.
Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock thanked Behrens-Stevenson for her comments and ideas. “We’ve had lots of discussions around how to deal with Kent Park and I think we’re all sort of still trying to come to grips with it,” she said. “I really like it and I also like the fact that you’re asking us to reconsider what we currently have before us, so thank you for that.”
Others echoed those sentiments. Councillor Dione Schumacher said other community events, like winter activities, could be incorporated. She said she liked the idea of being able to use it for all seasons. Councillor Bob Stone said her idea would add a ‘wow’ factor to the park. Although he said he would be concerned with vandalism, “the wow factor supersedes everything, and thanks very much. I hope we can make this happen.”
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano told Behrens-Stevenson that she had piqued council’s interest, “and have us excited about some new ideas and for that I thank you very much.”
Later in the meeting, council agreed to pull the Kent Park redesign from the existing tender.
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