Gord Ferguson wants to get the public’s input before he develops a plan to improve the concession in Lakawanna Park that he leases from the city.
City council voted unanimously Monday evening to support Ferguson’s plan to hold two open houses this week to consult and engage the community.
“It’s really just a first step. I didn’t need to, but let’s be honest, there is such a history right now with doing things with the city and parks,” said Ferguson. “Even though I am the tenant and leaseholder, I might as well start with the community to get their feedback. I am sure there is some great ideas out there.”
In the past, according to Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, it’s mostly been leaseholders coming to the city and asking permission to do the improvements they want, not asking for permission to consult the public.
“I think the Skaha Park controversy has put some emphasis on making sure the public has a chance to comment and see the proposal. I think it is a better way forward,” said Jakubeit. “Obviously there is interest in parks, so this might generate a fair bit of interest and comments; or maybe a better process than what happened six months ago.”
Jakubeit said that one of Ferguson’s comments that resonated with council was that the building is in need of care and that there is a problem with criminal activities in the park.
“I think if he is willing to put some money and improvements into that area and make that a destination, more of a park-like setting and more of a people place, it will become a bit more of a focal point,” said Jakubeit.
Ferguson picked up the lease for the concession in Lakawanna Park and the Peach earlier this year, and spent the summer thinking about ways to improve the property.
He calls the park, situated at the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Power Street, one of the city’s jewels, though the building is decaying and more could be done with the park.
“Lakawanna Park sits on a very significant and signature corner of the city and both the park and the building are looking horrible right now,” said Ferguson in a news release. “The building is an absolute eyesore with exposed cinderblock and rotting soffits attracting daily crime and vandalism. What I am looking for is the community’s input on their ideas to upgrade the park, the building and the food service offering. I am the tenant, a member of the community, and a father of two kids who love that park and playground. I feel I have an obligation to take the lead on improving this and I am willing to put some dollars towards that.”
Ferguson is holding two open houses at the concession in Lakawanna Park. The first will be held this Thursday, Oct. 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. and the second on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For those that cannot attend the open houses and who would like to still give input, Ferguson said he is available anytime to discuss further and can be reached at 250-460-2246 or contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
”A lot of people have called me already, so that is exciting to know that there is interest,” said Ferguson, adding that he has spoken to thousands of residents and visitors over the summer who have been supportive of his upgrade ideas, which include not only fixing up the concession building, but bringing more flowers and shrubs in to improve the park overall and beautify the area.