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Discussion over proposed quarry park continues

Mount Allison University has agreed to donate the land to municipality

It may not be identified as a priority in the town’s Recreation Master Plan, but the idea of converting Pickard Quarry into a community park keeps cropping back up onto council’s agenda.

During their discussion meeting last Tuesday evening, members of council and staff debated whether the town should continue to pursue the project now that Mount Allison University has agreed to donate the land to the municipality.

“I think this is an opportunity for us to create a gateway park,” said Coun. John Higham, who suggested the quarry could be converted into a botanical garden of sorts, “and to make a pitch to the province to help us market this on a tourism basis.”

Coun. Virgil Hammock agreed with his fellow colleague.

“I know there’s hesitancy from staff’s perspective because of liability issues and all that, but I like the idea of a botanical garden and the tourism concept of it.”

– Coun. Virgil Hammock

Barry Carroll, the town’s chief administrative officer, said the previous council had hoped to see the quarry park listed as a priority in the Recreation Master Plan. But the consultant, in discussions with members of the community, found the project wasn’t an item they felt should take precedence.

“What he heard from the community was that there were other priorities they felt were more important -- such as doing upgrades to the Waterfowl Park, the Bill Johnstone Memorial Park, Lillas Fawcett Park, Lorne Street, and the existing trail network -- before we create another park,” he said.

The CAO said this council also needs to consider the costs involved in upgrading and maintaining the quarry site, as well as the safety and liability issues involved.

“There is a significant cost if you want to pursue this project.”

Higham acknowledged there are a number of concerns the town will need to consider if pursuing the park, including constant repair of fences, an increased need for policing the area, as well as liability issues.

The possibility of converting Sackville’s historic Pickard Quarry, located at the end of Quarry Lane off Salem Street, into a more community-friendly site has been suggested for many years but has never moved past the conceptual stage.

A plan was developed by a consultant in 2007 for a quarry park, with support from the town’s parks advisory committee. The project, anticipated to cost approximately $200,000 in total if all phases were completed, was expected to include a trail system, lighting and benches in its initial stage.

Coun. Margaret Tusz-King pointed out that there was also hesitancy in the community when talk first began about development of the Sackville Waterfowl Park nearly 20 years ago.

“Yet it’s turned out to be a real gem in the community,” she said.

Tusz-King said she believes the proponents of the quarry park are people who will be able to see this project move on to the next level.

“I don’t want to see it dropped just yet,” she said.

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