N.D.G. sports cen­tre goes up for bids

Res­i­dents worry of shrink­ing Benny Park

Montreal Gazette - - Montreal - LINDA GYULAI GAZETTE CIVIC AF­FAIRS RE­PORTER

Benny Park and its sur­round­ings in Notre Dame de Grâce are about to be­come a construction zone.

The bor­ough of Côte des Neiges–N.D.G. launched a call for bids last week to build an es­ti­mated $15-mil­lion sports and com­mu­nity cen­tre in Benny Park on Mon­k­land Ave. be­tween Benny Ave. and Cavendish Blvd., bor­ough mayor Michael Ap­ple­baum said yes­ter­day.

Mean­while, a pro­vin­cial agency al­ready has a call for bids un­der way to con­struct a build­ing across the street, at Mon­k­land and Cavendish, to re­lo­cate N.D.G.’s CLSC.

The call for bids for the CLSC closes on Tues­day, an on­line gover nment pub­licten­der data­base shows. The es­ti­mated cost is listed at about $13 mil­lion.

The sports cen­tre, the lo­ca­tion of which was switched from a lot across the street in the Benny Farm com­plex in 2007, en­tails the de­mo­li­tion of the park’s ex­ist­ing out­door pool and chalet.

De­mo­li­tion will go ahead as soon as the weather warms up, Ap­ple­baum said.

The project, which will in­clude a six-lane, 25-me­tre long in­door pool, was mod­i­fied to meet the com­mu­nity’s needs, he said. For in­stance, an out­door wad­ing pool has been added as has a shal­low in­door pool for ex­er­cise classes.

Mean­while, the bor­ough re­cently pre­sented plans to the city for a $16-mil­lion, 40,000square-foot li­brary at the south­west cor ner of Benny and Mon­k­land, where the sports cen­tre was ini­tially planned, Ap­ple­baum said. The bor­ough looked at how li­braries are be­ing built in other cities to de­velop its plans.

“This will be a li­brary that has never been seen in the city of Montreal,” he said, adding he hopes to an­nounce the project be­fore sum­mer.

“This will be a first-class li­brary that meets the needs of our com­mu­nity for many many years down the road.”

But a group of res­i­dents says that while they sup­port construction of a sports cen­tre and a li­brary, they’re up­set about the lo­ca­tions and what they con­tend has been a faulty con­sul­ta­tion process.

For in­stance, the bor­ough re­zoned the park, and not just the site where the cen­tre is to be built. That leaves the park an open tar­get for fur­ther de­vel­op­ment, N.D.G. res­i­dent Raj Ram­tuhol said. He said the wad­ing pool will eat up more park space.

As well, the lat­est project plans aren’t avail­able, he said.

He and other mem­bers of a group that cre­ated saveben­ny­park.org have launched a pe­ti­tion to try to get the sports cen­tre moved back to the Benny Farm com­plex.

Construction of the sports cen­tre is to start in May or June, be­fore this fall’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion cam­paign. The cen­tre is sched­uled to open in De­cem­ber 2010.

lgyu­lai@ thegazette.canwest.com

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