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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

New washroom facilities at Heritage Gardens Park officially opens

by Sylene Argent

Back in 2014, the Town of Essex hired Stempski Kelly Associates to engage with the community to garner public feedback in regards to wants and needs as it pertains to Essex Centre. They were then tasked to create the Essex Centre Streetscape & Silo District Street Plan.

The idea was to have this plan look at better and more accessible treatments for the street, a consolidated theme, and to provide an inviting and accessible public place and opportunities for partnering on its projects. It was also meant to determine what to do with the space adjacent to the historic Essex Railway Station that remained vacant, after it was determined that the pre-existing silos would be demolished.

Action items developed in that plan are well underway as the Essex Centre Streetscape is currently being completed. In addition, the former Silo District continues to be developed, and is known as Heritage Gardens Park.

Members of the Town of Essex’s staff, Council, and Accessibility Advisory Committee, in addition to representatives of the Essex Centre BIA and the Rotary Club of Essex gathered to officially cut the ribbon to the newest addition to the Heritage Gardens Park on Friday afternoon, the new accessible public washroom facility.

With Essex Council approving a budget of $300,000 for the washroom facility, the Essex Centre BIA pledged to contribute $100,000 and the Rotary Club of Essex kicked in an additional $50,000 to the washroom project.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was held to recognize that partnership, and the completion of the washroom project.

“This has become an iconic landmark location here in Essex Centre, and we are excited to enhance it further with the addition of the public washrooms,” Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy said at the ribbon cutting. “The new washrooms were designed with accessibility in mind, including accessible doorways and the washroom footprint.”

Heritage Gardens Park, she added, has so much to offer to the community and those visiting. “This building is a wonderful addition to the existing park features, including the [Essex Memorial] Spitfire and the pavilion. It is home to many summer events and festivals.”

She thanked members of the Rotary Club of Essex, the Essex Centre BIA and Fed Dev Ontario for their contributions to the project.

Stephanie Winger, Chairperson of the Essex Centre BIA, said she was excited to see the washrooms installed and now ready for use.

“It makes such a huge impact for local businesses and on downtown events,” Winger said, noting she is also excited to see the Essex Centre Streetscape underway.

The Essex Centre BIA partnered with the Town of Essex previously to develop the pavilion, which was unveiled in 2018. Both the pavilion and the new washroom facility were designed to match the design of the railway station.

In addition to the funding from the BIA and Rotary Club, at a regular meeting held in January, Essex Council received information noting the Town of Essex was awarded $28,646 in grant funding through the “My Main Street Community Activator Program” for the Heritage Gardens Park Washrooms.

Council also approved using the grant funding to cover additional project expenses, totalling $15,132.95 for unforeseen excavation and land work, which included additional labour for the removal of large foundations and rocks encountered underground when installing the waterline from Wilson Avenue to the building location.

In addition, it was approved to use the remaining $13,513.05 towards the total project cost, instead of using Parks and Recreation General Reserve monies previously approved on September 6. At that time, Administration asked Council for additional funding as the tenders received were $43,440.00 over budget.


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