Councillor Jackie Barkhouse (middle) discusses proposed new park with area residents.
More than 40 local residents, surfers and HRM officials were in attendance at Cow Bay Hall on Thursday night for a public meeting regarding a proposed new park which would provide easy access to two popular surf breaks known as Minutes and Backyards.
During the meeting, District 8 Councillor Jackie Barkhouse and HRM park planner Blair Blakeney held up an artist’s rendering of the new park, which would be located on a 9.2-acre parcel of oceanfront property recently purchased by the city for about $211,000.
Although plans are not set in stone, Phase I of the new park will most likely feature a non-paved parking area and a boardwalk through a marshy wetland to the shoreline where surfers can access the surf breaks.
Feedback from those in attendance was largely positive. Most welcomed the new park as long as it was soundly constructed and maintained by the city, and monitored by police to discourage nighttime mischief.
A couple of residents were pleased that surfers would no longer be cutting through their properties to get to the surf. One resident pointed out that the park would provide easier access to a pond that is popular for skating in the winter.
A few residents expressed some concern about potential traffic hazards that could be caused by visitors to the park. One man, who called the park a “dumb deal”, said the entrance to the new park, which will be at the bottom of a steep hill, could pose a danger to nearby school bus stops and a mailbox.
Barkhouse stressed that plans were in the early stages and that residents would be able to provide input on how the park is developed. Residents will also have input on naming of the new park, she said, pointing out that a name has been proposed that includes the last name of the resident who sold the property to the city, Edward Jakeman.
The first stage of park infrastructure is expected to be completed in the summer/fall of 2010 with the second phase completed in 2011.
The first stage of the infrastructure will be funded by a combination of a substantial private donation, Councillor Barkhouse’s discretionary funds and funds raised in the community by the Coastal Access Committee.
The Coastal Access Committee, which was instrumental is lobbying HRM to purchase the property and create a park, is raising funds by selling engraved boards on the proposed boardwalk for $100 each. Donors will have their names, names of loved ones, or that of a business engraved in the right-hand side of boards on the boardwalk.
People interested can purchase boards at Emma’s Eatery in Eastern Passage, If Only Surf Shop in the South End, Propeller Cold Beer Store in the North End and Kannon Beach Surf & Windsurf Shop in Lawrencetown.
Full details on purchasing boards are available at participating locations and coastalaccessns.blogspot.com. The second stage of the project is contingent on provincial funding and will be completed in 2011.