Monday, May 23, 2011

The Market is Back!

The Withrow Park Farmers' Market started its season on Saturday May 21 with beautiful weather, yummy foods, plants to purchase, activities for children, and information from local community groups like the "Friends" and the Riverdale Historical Society.  Come out to the Market every saturday from 9 am to 1 pm (rain or shine) and support a wonderful part of our park community. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Meeting with Councillor Fletcher and Parks Department

Thank you to everyone who came to the meeting.  We covered a lot of issues and laid the groundwork to get things done.  Now is the real work- we need to make sure that the ball keeps rolling.

It seems like the most efficient way to move ahead is to set up "project groups" to deal with the City on specific issues.   The primary project issues were:
1) tree canopy
2) playground shade structures
3) playground development (particularly looking at natural play)
4) events coordination

Please let me know if you would like to take an active role in any of these groups.  The project groups can get to work on their specific issues and then keep the rest of the "Friends" in the loop as to progress and developments. 

If you were at the meeting and feel that I missed a project group above, let me know.  I believe that the soccer and horticultural issues were self-contained issues that would be dealt with by the soccer league and Riverdale Horticultural Society but I would ask that each organization keep the "Friends" posted.  It is helpful for everyone to have an idea of developments in the park.


In attendance on behalf of the City were Mark Hawkins (General Supervisor for Parks in Toronto & East York District), Sandy Straw (Manager Parks Toronto East York), Councillor Fletcher and Susan Serran from the Councillor's office.

Soccer Pitch
The soccer pitch is muddy and full of ruts.  Mark Hawkins outlined his efforts to find a solution and secure funding to fix the field.  There will be some temporary fixes to the field this Spring.  In mid-September there will be a more far reaching effort to re-sod the field.  The field will be fenced off for the winter.  End of season soccer games may need to be moved to other fields. 

Water Fountain
The water fountain at the north end of the park (outside of the fenced playground) will be replaced.  Mark Hawkins advised that he would have the water fountain inside the fenced playground and the water fountain at the edge of the soccer field assessed.  He will contact me to let me know about the status of the reviews and repairs.

We discussed the possibility of installing a water tap that could be used to fill water bottles.  While there was agreement that the City is interested in promoting the use of tap water (as opposed to bottled water) there was some question as to where a water tap could be installed and how it could be designed to avoid water wastage (if people leave the tap open).  The issue should be pursued but is not one that is likely to be resolved in the short term. 

Tree Canopy
Many trees were cut down recently which highlights the problem of our diminishing tree canopy.  A plan needs to be developed (in conjunction with the Urban Forestry department) for tree canopy renewal.  Roberta was going to take leadership on the tree canopy project.  She will work with Mark Hawkins on this issue.  Let me know if you want to help.

Playground Shade Structures
Councillor Fletcher advised that she has put aside money (under section 37) that is to be used for shade in parks.  She indicated the money could be earmarked to develop a shade structure for the Withrow Park playgrounds.

Playground Improvement
It looks like we will finally get a tetherball for our park.  Mark Hawkins advised that we would get a tetherball this week. The ball will be left attached to the pole.  If the tetherball is damaged or removed we will explore other options.  Deborah from the Frankland Community Centre (Recreation Department) suggested that it might be possible to have the City summer camps put up the tetherball in the morning and take it down at the end of camp each day.

There was considerable interest in developing natural play structures that would be of interest to older children.  One suggestion was to have a water pipe for sand/water play (possibly in the south/unfenced playground). 

Mark and Sandy advised that outdoor sports equipment is very expensive and, in their experience, is quick to be damaged.  They strongly suggested that we avoid this option for Withrow Park.

Sandy advised that she has been lobbying to reuse the cut down trees in the parks to be used as play structures or to build benches.  It wasn't clear that much progress has been made on this front (they were not left at Withrow).

We need to develop a plan for playground improvements.  Councillor Fletcher suggested that we consider developing a plan that allows for successive improvements to the playgrounds by creating more interesting features in and around our existing playgrounds rather than by tearing down existing structures to start from scratch.

Riverdale Horticultural Society
Mark will be in touch with Heather to discuss how to help the RHS access water for their garden. 

There will be a defibrillator located at the Withrow Clubhouse, at the rink and at Frankland.

Park Events
It was suggested that we create a calendar of events for the park to simplify the permit process.  Also, we can coordinate events through the Frankland Community Centre to simplify the process.

We will discuss with Antonio (of the Recreation department) and Mark how to bring back the Summer Solstice and Holiday bonfire/sing along.  We may be able to bring these events back as joint- Friends/Frankland Community Centre events.

Broadview Community Youth Group is planning a fair for families and children in September (likely date September 24).

There are a few proposed designs for a fence around the off-leash part of the dog part.  Councillor Fletcher sought our input as to best options to seek community input into selecting the fence design. 

Thank you once again to everyone who attended.  Please let me know if you believe my notes require amendment.  Also, please let me know if you want to become involved in any of the listed projects (or others).  Together we can make this work!