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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Community weighs in on Co-An Park Master Plan conceptual design

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

The Town of Amherstburg and the Town of Essex are undertaking the steps to create a multi-year Master Plan for Co-An Park, a recreation facility in McGregor co-owned by both municipalities and maintained by the Co-An Park Advisory Committee.

  Last Tuesday evening, community members and facility-users had a chance to see the newly created conceptual design during an open house hosted at the McGregor Community Centre, and provide feedback.

  The conceptual design was created via survey results garnered in November of 2022, when Essex and Amherstburg teamed up to host an open house and online survey to solicit public feedback. This opportunity gave residents, facility users, and members of the Co-An Park Advisory Committee and the Essex County Steam & Gas Engine Museum, which is housed onsite, an opportunity to weigh-in on what site features and amenities they believed will enhance the facility.   

  Director of Parks, Facilities, Recreation, and Culture for Amherstburg, Heidi Baillargeon, noted the Master Plan will be long range.

  Information presented at last week’s open house detailed that respondents to the first survey noted that if they could make one improvement to Co-An Park it would be a playground/splashpad, updated facilities/maintenance, sports and lighting, bike lane, sidewalks, walking paths, parking, pickleball, trees/garden, social events, a dog park, then a pool.

  The top ten amenities respondents would like improved included a playground, walking path, trees, benches, splashpad, baseball, swings, lighting, parking lot, and pickleball.

  Baillargeon relayed the survey results at the Co-An Park Advisory Committee meeting last May. At the time, she noted there were 321 responses, of which 57 percent were from Amherstburg, 35.8 percent were from Essex, and the remainder were from other communities.

  At the time, Baillargeon told members of the Committee the more popular requested amenities included the desire to add a playground and splashpad. Secondary requests included walking paths, improved accessibility, trees, benches, improved lighting, and baseball amenities.

  In the 2024 Budget, Essex Council approved utilizing $200,000 from Essex’s Co-An Park Reserve, with Amherstburg to match, for a playground. This is the estimated cost to cover this item.

  A splashpad is estimated to cost $450,000. Baillargeon noted there would be some additional work to be done to house a splashpad to the site with the watre system there. Currently, An Environmental Assessment is being conducted for the quadrant for sanitary amenities, she noted, which should help plan that feature.

  Survey results noted the preference for the potential playground/splashpad theme included nature as the number one pick, followed by being colourful, pirate ship/sailboat, farm/tractors, and castle.

  A second survey to garner public feedback is currently being hosted on Residents and facility users will be available to provide their input via the survey until April 23.

  After the second survey results are collected, results will be presented to both municipal Councils.

  Baillargeon notes that both towns need to be worked with in terms of planning. Condition assessments also need to take place to determine the shape of current features and see what funding can be put into the project.

  Amherstburg will do that as part of its Asset Management Plan, the Town of Essex will do the same, and then they can chip away at the plan, which will be set up in a five and ten-year capital plan.

  Jake Morassut, Essex’s Director of Community Services, noted the partnership between Essex and Amherstburg with regards to Co-An Park is unique. The neat aspect is that the two towns split on features.

  He intends to keep an eye out for grant opportunities.

  Co-An Park was implemented in 1977, and is governed by a committee of individuals from Essex and Amherstburg.

  It currently houses six ball diamonds, two tennis courts, three soccer fields, playground equipment, washrooms, a pavilion, and canteen, in addition to picnic tables, pathways, trees, and benches.


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