Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Gazing into a crystal ball for Woodstock's recreational long-term needs

Monteith Brown hired as consultant to analyze city's future for rec facilities
Ball diamonds, swimming pool, free splash pad new arena, gymnasium . . . ?

By Mark Schadenberg
If history is about reviewing the past; you could say creating a Recreational Facility Needs Study is about writing a game plan for the community's future.
As chair of the Woodstock Recreation Advisory Committee (WRAC), I will certainly be attending Woodstock's 'recreational facility needs study' public meeting on Monday, June 9, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., at the Goff Hall at the community complex on Finkle Street.
The City of Woodstock has hired consultant Monteith Brown (www.mbpc.ca) to collect, verify, tabulate, compile, corroborate, correlate, sift, and draw conclusions (sometimes using graphs and flow charts) to all submissions from executives of user groups (power brokers), citizens at-large, advisory committees (recreation, environment, accessibility, and youth), city staff and city council, but must also interview entities such as the board of health, school boards, and other partnership possibilities such as the YMCA. 

I add, consideration must also be made for Oxford residents living outside Woodstock as any eventual price tag must not be solely paid by Woodstock taxpayers along with (any available) funding / grants applied for to higher levels of government.
Monteith Brown has been collecting data and writing reports since 1977 on services ranging from recreation to libraries, and from heritage to tourism.
Speaking solely for myself, and not as any consensus viewpoint of WRAC, the needs study and the proposed Woodall Farm recreation complex are essential, especially in the areas of ball diamonds and swimming/water facilities
Let's Play Ball !
There has been a lot of discussion about building the Woodall Farm park on Devonshire Avenue (just east of the french school) and the immediate need for more ball diamonds in Woodstock and more importantly ball diamonds with better field dimensions. I have been a speaking delegation at city council on several occasions. Woodstock (certainly) lacks a sufficient number of ball diamonds due to supply, demand, and quality. Woodstock needs to re-focus some of the smaller diamonds for other ball uses, such as the two Southside Park fields by the gate. Quite frankly, today's aluminium bats have transformed many slo-pitch games into a home run hitting contest.
Some current diamonds would be terrific for girls' softball (for example) and maybe that particular sport would expand within the Woodstock Minor Ball Association's umbrella.
Co-ed adult ball is about recreation and social time. The mandate of the WRAC is to promote physical activity and recreational opportunities for everyone within Woodstock – ranging from pickup hockey to walking trails, splash pads for the kids and oldtimers' athletics.

Have A Splash !
In the meantime, WRAC has also analyzed in recent years the state of the outdoor Lions Pool (It's almost 70 years old) and its location.
If a municipal pool was to be built to replace Lions Pool, should it be built at Woodall? Certainly by today's accessibility standards, the Lions Pool is obsolete. A new pool would have a zero-depth entry point in one area. Would a new pool be outdoors or indoors? Before you answer that questions consider that Lions is open for about 12 weeks of the year, and if you want to expand services or sports options down the line to synchronized swimming and competitive diving, or perhaps water polo, should a second indoor pool be built, or perhaps a pool with Olympic-regulation swim lanes? If that is the case what do you do with the Southside Aquatic Centre? The local SWA Aquatics team, for example, recently hosted a meet in London as Woodstock lacks the proper facilities for length of lanes and pool staging (Where do swimmers, parents, coaches and officials gather when not in the water) space.
Again in my opinion, Woodstock requires a free kids' splash pad similar to what is enjoyed by Elgin County folks in Pinafore Park in St Thomas.
As you can see the questions, and jockeying for position among various sports, and attaching dollar amounts (construction costs and later operational deficits), are endless. Many ideas will be unattainable, but there is no use writing with a pencil (something that can later be erased or ignored) when a permanent marker is necessary.



Yes, we all realize that the money tree does not exist, but after Woodstock's debenture on the 18-year-old community complex comes off the books, this City is relatively debt free.

Every Recreational Facet
With the city growing, now is the time to write a thorough game plan for the next 20+ years -- a playbook for ALL recreational facilities and a plan which will incorporate all recent studies pertaining to trails and the Burgess Park, along with long-term requirements for a practical indoor gymnasium (Another one of the requirements that I think should be a given at the Woodall project) for both youth groups and the growing aging population. Now is the time to consider the state of the Civic Centre Arena, plus listen to the those asking about basketball (outdoors and/or indoors), tennis, indoor lawn bowling, and all other recreational endeavours / pastimes.
It's difficult to predict the future, but what are registrations projected to be for minor hockey (female hockey is still growing quickly), figure skating, soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics and baseball / softball / fastball, etc.
What about sports not currently offered by the community such as short-track speedskating, lacrosse, and synchronized swimming. Is there (or could there be) a demand?
Included also in the study will be recreation not currently managed by the City such as the curling club, badminton and cricket.
Another factor, especially when partnerships are monitored and considered, is fitness centres versus the somewhat not-for-profit based YMCA.
As you can see there are a vast number of points to debate.
Everything is on the table. The writing of the plan -- with its input from the community -- should be the cornerstone for Woodstock's recreational future. 

Besides attending the public meeting(s), there are other methods to participate in the process:
Call the parks and recreation department directly: (519) 539-2382 x4101.
Email: parksandrecreation@cityofwoodstock.ca
Or complete the survey through Survey Money, which is noted in the link below.
LINKS:

 
Mark Schadenberg, Sales Representative
Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES designation)
Royal LePage Triland Realty
757 Dundas St, Woodstock
www.wesellwoodstock.com
(519) 537-1553, cell or text
Email: mschadenberg@rogers.com
Twitter: markroyallepage
Facebook: Mark Schadenberg, Royal LePage Triland

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