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Riverside Minor Baseball Association Holds Open House For Proposed Community Park

Tuesday October 4th, 2016, 10:04pm


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Dave Killen of Landmark Engineering shows off the yard signs available for project supporters.

On Tuesday night the Riverside Minor Baseball Association (RMBA) facility on Ontario Street hosted a community meeting to discuss the future of St Rose Park.

The RMBA is working with community partners to develop a plan that they hope will result in the park being turned into a community space.

“It is very important for us as a community to have a place to come and meet your neighbour,” says Dave Killen of Landmark Engineering.

Killen, along with other community members such as Alexandria Fischer of Family Respite Services and former Windsor Fire Chief Dave Fields spoke to a crowd of roughly one hundred attendees about their plan to create a space that honours the heritage of the site, which has been a baseball field since the 1920’s, while also making an accessible space.

The team hopes to include a Miracle Field in the redesign, similar to that installed in Amherstburg a few years back.

A Miracle Field is a specially designed, hard-surfaced, accessible baseball field that allows people of all abilities to enjoy the sport.

“Recreation is so important for people with disabilities,” read the slide show for Fischer’s portion of the presentation.

Fischer also notes that she would like to see Riverside become a leader in the city in terms of accessibility.

Community member Jack Morneau spoke on the importance of the cenotaph that honours Canadians who fell during the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Korean War. This monument to the Canadian Armed Forces used to stand at the front of Riverside Arena, but upon the facility’s demolition in 2011 the cenotaph was moved closer to the swimming pool, and further from Wyandotte St.

“To see it at the back of a parking lot, surrounded by school buses, grass not cut, lights not working, I find that very sad,” says Morneau, who hopes that the memorial can receive a new, more prominent location with the park’s restructuring.

While the crowd offered raucous applause to Morneau’s statements, Councillor Joanne Gignac later took the mic to say that she was bothered by some of the comments made regarding the cenotaph.

She points out that when the WFCU Centre was being planned for the east end, a number of older recreation facilities, including Riverside Area, were set to be demolished, their land sold, and the money from the sale was to go towards funding the new home of The Windsor Spitfires.

During this process, she says Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield worked with the local Legion to decide what would be done with the monument, and that the consensus was to place it near the pool, to be used as a teaching opportunity when children would pass it.

This statement from Gignac also answered some questions raised by those in attendance – is the land known as St Rose Park currently for sale?

While the area is not currently listed, according to Gignac the original plan to demolish the old arena included eventually selling off the property, but this for some reason has yet to occur.

She does, however, encourage the RMBA to put together a package that can be presented to Windsor City Council, so they can decide whether or not this is a project they will back.

Killen notes that the rebuilding of the park is estimated to cost between $1.2 to $1.5 million, but stresses that they are “not asking for the city to build this for us.” Instead, he says, the RMBA hopes to “fundraise and find partners for this project.”

The team behind the plan hopes to soon have a survey available on the RMBA website that will allow community members to submit ideas for what should be included in the restoration. In the meantime, they encourage supporters to sign the petition to make this project happen, and to contact them for yard signs to display as a show of support.

Mayor Drew Dilkens was also in attendance Tuesday night, but chose not to take the mic for public comment.

Councillor Joanne Gignac speaks to the crowd about the history of land deals surrounding St Rose Park.

Dave Fields speaking to attendees on the importance of this land to the community.

Community members listen to Jack Morneau discuss the placement of the cenotaph that was formerly located in front of Riverside Arena.

Alexandria Fischer from Family Respite Services explains the impact a Miracle Field could have on families in the area.

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