New Westminster council divided on what to do with grandstand
City councillors are divided on what to do with the decaying Queen’s Park stadium grandstand and the asphalt tennis court area next to it. A master plan for the park was presented to council by consultants on Monday.
While containing many definitive plans for the park, three options were presented on what to do with the grandstand built 60 years ago. The first would be to remove the grandstand, but not the grass playing surface, costing up to $400,000, according to a 2007 estimate.
The second would see renovation of the current grandstand, which would be a short-term measure.
That was estimated five years ago at as much as $750,000. The third option was a long-term permanent structure pegged in 2007 at $1.3 million.
Coun. Jonathan Coté, parks committee chair, said except for May Day the grandstand doesn’t get enough use to justify retaining it.
“I’m not sure there is value in keeping it going. The use now is not that significant. The community doesn’t envision it being used as that type of park. I lean in the direction of moving forward without that,” said Coté on Monday.
Coun. Chuck Puchmayr, however, pointed out the city’s outdoor pools are used seasonally like the stadium, but no one’s suggesting they be torn down.
“There’s a huge potential there for future use,” Puchmayr said. “I can’t support eliminating the stadium. We need more detail of the cost of refurbishing.”
Coun. Betty McIntosh, whose husband Ken has had long-time ties to the baseball community, said there is potential for high-level baseball at the stadium and didn’t support tearing it down.
The master plan presented to council also indicated the tennis courts, which are so rarely used the city uses part of the area for soil storage, could be turned into a plaza.
HB Lanarc Golder consultant Jana Zelenski said a plaza could become “the heart” of the park with its location between the stadium, the arena, the arenex and the Bernie Legge Theatre.
Council heard there has been indications the baseball community would like to see that area turned into an indoor training facility.
Cote said it would be worthwhile getting more information about that concept.
Coun. Bill Harper wondered if the plaza and stadium area should be looked at in a city-wide context as part of a one-stop sports complex, such as Burnaby’s Central Valley facilities.
“Is this (Queen’s Park) the spot? We have the [Canada Games Pool] and other sports facilities nearby, or is somewhere else the spot?” said Harper.
“If the stadium is not there, what do we do with the property? We need to look at it as a total piece. I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity if we just put in a [plaza]. What is the function of it? I’d hate to knock down the stadium, but the question is what are the uses of it?”
The asphalt tennis courts, he said, are a valuable piece of real estate that could eventually be used in a sporting capacity. He suggested making it a passive park temporarily to keep costs down and then entertain proposals for high-level sport activity there in the future.
“The concerns council had are all very legitimate,” said Arenex manager Jay Young, who is in charge of developing the plan. “We have some answers to them, but at this point we need to find out what our next step is.
“Ultimately I can’t stress enough this plan expresses what the community wants. There’s many, many people and many, many perspectives, and not everybody is going to be thrilled with what happens in the end. But in the end we will be confident that’s what the majority of the community wants.”