BROCKVILLE – Mayor Jason Baker says moving a Brockville youth arena ahead and developing Reynolds Park will be part of council’s four priorities to close out its term.
The other two are the Woolworth’s building on King Street and pivoting the City of Brockville from a government to business-like attitude when serving the public.
In his state of the city address to Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce members Monday morning, Baker says people will see movement shortly on the youth arena.
“It seems like it may have gone quiet but there have been things working in the background,” Baker said. A report from the arena advisory committee recommending locations will be coming to council this week.
“We will start to move that project forward,” Baker said, noting the city has been saving $300,000 a year since former Mayor David Henderson’s term.
As for the Reynolds Park project, the mayor says the city is “quite excited about but also a little bit frustrated with it.” He says there are environmental issues given the site’s history but nothing the city can’t handle. Baker says it will be a more “passive park,” along the waterfront east of the rowing club building, with no major buildings on the property and the site would be better as a park than a “fenced off parking lot.”
“We certainly do not want this to be a parking lot, long term. It’s time for us to get the fences down,” he said.
The former Woolworth’s building in downtown Brockville, which the city bought and is now canvassing bids to develop it into a mixed commercial-residential setup, is moving forward with the RFP (request for proposal) expected to be out by the end of the month.
The mayor also cleared up rumours that municipal taxes were forgiven in the deal. He says the taxes were paid up at the time of the sale and the city is not legally allowed to waive municipal taxes.
As for customer service, “I thought we needed to transition from having a government attitude to having a business attitude when it comes to our customers so we’ve been working towards that. We really do want to be a transparent operation and we want to be responsive to requests for information that we’re getting,” the co-owner of Ketchum Manufacturing told the chamber crowd.
While the city held off this year on hiring a communications officer, Baker says “I believe this position will come back next year for another review.”
The mayor also touched on the city’s financial situation, taking pride in the fact the city has struck a budget two years in a row with a less and one per cent levy from ratepayers.