Matilda Memorial Park announces major donation, 5-year plan

Planning the park’s future – Area residents joined with committee members at the Matilda Memorial Park April 22nd at a public meeting to discuss the group’s five-year plan for the park. Residents were invited to mark down what park equipment they liked for the park. Pictured above (l-r): Grace Smail, Abigail Smail and Ben Wickwire select different items from the catalogues. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

BRINSTON – A cold and rainy spring day did not dampen the enthusiasm at the spring public planning meeting for the Matilda Memorial Recreation committee held April 22nd. The meeting served as a venue to show a longer-term vision for rejuvenating the park, and to gain further input from the community.

Organized by outgoing committee co-chair Cindy Peters, the meeting also had a major funding announcement for building a new playground structure as part of the plan.

A donation from the Ault family (Patricia, Cindy and Bill), in memory of Frank Ault, who passed away earlier this year, will fully fund the new handicap-accessible playground for ages 4-12 at the park.

“Dad had been talking about doing something there for a while last year,” said Peters of the announcement.

The donation also includes funding for new player benches at the ball diamond.

Planning for the park includes relocating the existing smaller play structure to near the swing set, and eventually adding a gazebo and greenery around the area where the small ball diamond was. Two mini soccer fields, connecting the walking paths and a BMX bike area for kids are planned as well.

On the fringes of the park, the group plans to clean up the brush on the sliding hill and create a walking path around the edges of the park space.

“We want to make sure it is cleaned up and safe, so people can use it,” Peters said.

Peters told the group of approxmately 25-30 people that the responses from their online survey were overall favourable. A number of the responses identified as having adults or children with disabilities, highlighting a need in the area.

The group is also planning for new park benches, which will provide a fundraising opportunity for the group. The benches can be sponsored by businesses or as a memorial.

At the meeting, members of the community were invited to go through catalogs of park equipment to help choose the items to plan for.

Challenges

The group has faced some challenges so far in the renewal process.

“Because it is municipal land, there are processes we have to follow,” said Peters.

Those processes have slowed the committee’s progress. The group was approved for funding through the EDP South Branch Community Fund in the fall, but equipment has not been ordered yet.

“We need to know if this is something the municipality can install or if we have to have the vendor install,” said Peters. “We’re still waiting.”

The group plans to install a second basketball net, a tetherball pole, and some smaller permanent bouncy toys around the park in the pending round of improvements.

In a separate interview after the committee meeting, South Dundas recreation director Ben Macpherson was supportive of what the group was doing.

“I want to help get things back on track, and help them achieve their goals,” Macpherson said.

A meeting between the new committee co-chairs Tracy Yalden and Janice Froats and Macpherson, South Dundas CAO Shannon Geraghty, Mayor Evonne Delegarde and Deputy-Mayor Jim Locke was planned for April 25th to discuss the group’s plans and next steps moving forward.

Seaway Surge

Peters told the group that the Seaway Surge baseball club will be using the ball diamond at the park as their practice diamond twice a week for their Mosquito-level team. The diamond will need the addition of a pitchers mound, something that will be done this spring she said. Peters was optimistic that the practices this year can help grow the use of the ball diamond as baseball continues to grow in popularity in the community.

Events planned

The group has three events planned for the next year starting with a Family Fun Day June 17th. At the event, the committee plans to plant a tree in memory of Jeremy Morris, a member of the committee who passed away last year.

“It’s important we remember and recognize the people who have helped pushed this along,” said Chad DeJong, the other outgoing co-chair.

The group’s Pig Roast is planned for the third weekend in September, one week earlier than last year, filling a void from the Williamsburg Harvest Festival. January 2018 will see the return of the winter carnival again.