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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Bondy says there is community support for the Town to purchase former Harrow High School

by Sylene Argent

“The Community of Harrow and Colchester are very loud and clear about the need for continued greenspace in the recreational core of Harrow,” Essex Councillor Sherry Bondy wrote in a letter to fellow Councillors, which was received during Monday evening’s regular meeting.

  “The current Harrow High School Property, along with all the surrounding park space is the recreational hub of our community. This greenspace can not be lost to private development at the expense of recreation. If this property is sold, we can never replace it,” Bondy’s letter continues.

  Through the letter, she asked Council to seriously review all that can be gained by continued public ownership and all that could be lost with private ownership.

  At the April 19 meeting, Essex Council extended an invitation to the GECDSB to attend a future meeting of Essex Council to discuss the former Harrow High School property.

  Bondy said she has received over 150 emails from within the community, noting residents do not want to lose the greenspace.

   She added the green space surrounding the school and the former educational facility are a package deal. “It is time for Council to buy it, and then we can potentially look at a recreational hub. If that doesn’t work, at least we have control over what happens there.”

  The area includes a women’s ball diamond, that Bondy said very important, in addition to a walking track, which backs onto the Participark. It also allows for parking for the annual Harrow Fair.

  “The reason why this is so important now,” Bondy said, “Is that we just lost a chunk of green space to development in order to get [a] subdivision. We can’t lose any more.”

  Purchasing Harrow High School, which neighbours the Harrow Arena, has been talked about at Council in the past, in using it as a community hub. Many things were different then, she said. “Harrow wasn’t growing. We couldn’t really justify it.”

  Council, she said, has been very good about development, but there needs to be a good balance with recreation. Coming out of COVID, she added, recreation is even more important than it was before. “We need to ensure there are activities for our youth in our community. We lost the high school, we understand that. That doesn’t mean we still can’t have youth activities.”

  An idea brought to her about the space was whether or not beach volleyball could be hosted from the site. Could a sponsor be obtained for the gym, and if that gym could be used to operate programs like ones ran out of the Maedel community Centre in Essex Centre.

  Bondy said she has spoken to three parties that have an interest in the building, to date.

  Even if there is no interest in buying the former Harrow High School from a different party right now, she said, “We could lose it all, and that is probably what is so scary. We could lose prime recreational land to private development, and then we have zero control over it.”

  In addition, to support recreational opportunities in Harrow through the use of the former educational hub, several individuals made videos, which Bondy uploaded onto her social media account last week.

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