By the time summer visitors start arriving next year, Lions Lookout will look a little bit better than it does today.
Several items had been identified in the 2017 budget to address some of the attraction’s disrepair, including removing the planters and patching the roadway. Those were put on hold while councillors debated what to do with the Memorial Park area as a whole – it would have been wasteful to spend the money if a grander plan pointed in a different direction was their thinking.
What to do with Memorial Park is still under consideration – councillors first wanted to hire a consultant to conduct public consultations but then nixed that idea in favour of doing the work in-house since a Memorial Park Master Plan had already been created in 2011. Councillors did a walking tour of the area in September to better inform their discussions.
While those discussions continue, Huntsville’s General Committee has, after some debate, given staff the green light to complete minor work in the area.
Initially, several members of committee were against the idea.
“I don’t know why we’d spend that much money on paving when it’s for the most part not bad,” said Mayor Scott Aitchison, referencing the $45,000 approved in the 2017 budget for road repairs. “It seems like we are putting the cart before the horse. I don’t think we spend more money now until we lay out a grand vision for it.”
Councillor Nancy Alcock agreed, adding that “repaving negates the option of looking at a permeable surface (for the road) which is the way we might be going. I’d hate to spend money and then we’ve taken that off the table.”
But Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano, said that she was in favour of the spend, to laughter from her fellow councillors – she’s often the voice of fiscal restraint at the table. “I think if it costs $45,000 to repair what needs to be repaired then I think we should. I don’t think we are going to have a brand new $500,000 master plan for Lions Lookout next year.”
Director of Operations and Protective Services, Steve Hernen reiterated that staff were looking for permission to “clean the place up” and, if committee agreed, to get it done early in the spring.
“I get that you want to make it a little less embarrassing because it is embarrassing now,” Mayor Aitchison replied. “I see that (the recommendation) is about cleaning up some potential liabilities, so I guess I would support that. I don’t know what the next step is for a broader vision of the place because the Memorial Park Master Plan we have now is not really a true Master Plan…it tinkers around the edges, it doesn’t really solve anything.”
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