The already fuzzy recreation picture in Breslau got more Picasso-like this week as a splash pad project would appear to be in line for $600,000 from Woolwich coffers.
Only $100,000 would come from fundraising, a major departure from other community-driven projects such as the skate park and accessible playground in Elmira, for instance.
Based on a total cost of about $700,000, Woolwich could earmark $500,000 from development charges (DC) – money collected from builders for every new home they construct – as 72 per cent of the project’s costs have been deemed eligible for coverage from the DC reserve fund.
Given an estimated cost of $350,000 for the construction of the splash pad proper, $252,000 would come from development charges – essentially money collected from the raft of homebuilding in the village. That leaves $98,000 to come from the community, led by Breslau Lions Club fundraising efforts.
The township has an additional estimate of $341,000 to extend water and sewer services to the site in Breslau Memorial Park, do electrical work and construct a 1,000 square foot building to house the mechanical elements and provide public washrooms – a so-called comfort station. Those costs would be borne entirely by the township, though also eligible to draw on the development charges reserve fund, said director of finance Richard Petherick.
The discussion in council chambers Tuesday night followed a request from the Lions’ splash pad committee for Woolwich to commit to providing $252,000 – 72 per cent – to the splash pad construction of $350,000
Lions Club member Jeff Barnard said the group wants to keep the project moving forward, with financial assurances from the township helping it obtain grants from agencies such as the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
The committee is also concerned about delays – it had hoped to build the project this year – due to the prospect of a joint venture with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. That deal would see a new school built on what is now parkland. It provides for $1.75 million in upgrades to the park and community centre, as well as community access to new facilities, including a 5,000-square-foot library operated by the Region of Waterloo.
Concerns with that project aside, Barnard said the group is worried that delays related to the school bid could see township money earmarked for the Breslau splash pad spent elsewhere.
Petherick noted that while a development charges plan has also identified money for splash pads in Elmira and St. Jacobs, there has been no movement on projects in either community.
Still, there is likely more demand for funding than money set aside specifically for rec. projects. In fact, Petherick notes the parks and recreation section of the reserve fund has a negative balance of $858,650, with the township’s 2014 development charges study listing some $2.8 million in parks and rec. capital projects.
Overall, the township has more than $4.5 million in its DC reserve fund.
Costs were at the heart of Coun. Larry Shantz’s concerns about simply committing to 72 per cent of the cost in an open-ended agreement, as there is no firm budget for the splash bad project.
“I don’t want to write a blank cheque here,” he said.
Council asked staff to meet with the Breslau committee to shape a formal agreement before coming back with a report.
Coun. Patrick Merlihan asked that the report include costing for operating, maintenance and eventual replacement once the facility is turned over to the township, stretching that to include costs associated with plans for other splash pads in the township.
“I’d like to have things well thought out before we tackle it,” he said of an agreement with the Breslau Lions.
While the community group had been eyeing this year for construction, Coun. Mark Bauman suggested 2016 as a more realistic target, noting that even if rushed, the process would see construction completed in the fall. And he cautioned against moving too quickly, pointing out that some aspects of the skate park and developments in Gibson Park in Elmira were rushed, causing some hitches.
“A 2016 start date … will give a much better result.”
Shantz suggested the parties take time to shape an agreement that would serve as a framework for future projects.
“It’ll save a lot of headaches and heartaches,” he said.
Woolwich thus far has committed no money to the project, with talks still in the preliminary stages.