Mor­row Park ranked top site for new arena

James Steven­son Park in East City, No Frills, GE land, works yard also on list

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JOELLE KO­VACH Ex­am­iner Staff Writer

Mor­row Park tops a new short­list of pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions for a new arena/en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre, to re­place the Me­mo­rial Cen­tre, that has been re­leased by the city’s Toronto con­sul­tant.

The new fa­cil­ity would cost $85.9 mil­lion if it in­cludes two ice pads and 5,800 seats, states a study from Sierra Plan­ning and Man­age­ment.

With just one ice pad, it’s less: $72.1 mil­lion. It would take a min­i­mum of five years to have it built and ready to open, the study says.

Coun­cil­lors will re­view the short­list for the first time on Mon­day evening at City Hall and ask Sierra to do fur­ther study on one site or more.

Be­sides Mor­row Park, the other five lo­ca­tions short­listed are:

• No Frills on Ge­orge St. N.

• City pub­lic works yard on Townsend St.

• James Steven­son Park (the ball di­a­mond) on Burn­ham St.

• Gen­eral Elec­tric (in part) on Park St. N.

• Cana­dian Ca­noe Mu­seum on Mon­aghan Rd. (which is soon to build a new mu­seum next to the Lift Lock).

The study points out ad­van­tages to build­ing on Mor­row Park com­pared to the other po­ten­tial sites.

Mor­row Park is city-owned, for ex­am­ple, and it’s large enough to take an arena with two ice pads.

It’s also not in a flood­plain, and the lands aren’t con­tam­i­nated by prior in­dus­trial uses (such as the GE site, for ex­am­ple – the prop­erty is the low­est-ranked of the six, and the con­sul­tants sug­gest it be re­jected).

The pre­ferred op­tion would be to build on the eastern half of Mor­row Park (im­me­di­ately west of Roger Niel­son Way).

The new arena would cover two of the four ball di­a­monds, the small Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety of­fices and the Kawartha Gym­nas­tics Club (which has a lease un­til May 2019).

It would mean the Me­mo­rial Cen­tre could re­main stand­ing, east of Roger Niel­son Way.

Al­though the city needs two more ice pads, the study points out, there’s a plan for con­struc­tion of a new twin-pad arena at Trent Univer­sity.

So the study rec­om­mends us­ing the PMC as a dry arena for use as a gym­na­sium, for ex­am­ple, or as a space to host trade shows.

Mean­while, the Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety has a li­cens­ing agree­ment that al­lows it to use Mor­row Park for the an­nual Peterborough Ex­hi­bi­tion.

But the agree­ment does al­low for non-agri­cul­tural uses on the eastern half of the park, the study points out, which would in the­ory al­low a new arena and en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre.

If the city were to ter­mi­nate the li­cens­ing agree­ment with the Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety with­out cause, how­ever, it would be on the hook for $500,000 to help the So­ci­ety re­lo­cate the Ex – and it’s not clear whether there are other suit­able lands in the city.

Mean­while there could be one an­other com­pli­ca­tion, the study says.

Mor­row Park was given to the city in trust by Harold Mor­row in 1938 for use as agri­cul­tural ex­hi­bi­tion grounds. In 1984, Mor­row’s de­scen­dants deeded the land to the city with the prom­ise that it be for­ever used for the Ex.

That was en­shrined in the Peterborough Act 1984; the study states the act “could place lim­i­ta­tions on devel­op­ment at Mor­row Park and will re­quire care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion” – but it doesn’t rule out a new arena.

It’s far prefer­able to try to man­age those chal­lenges than to con­sider the GE site, the study states: it rated worst of the short­listed op­tions.

The land is con­tam­i­nated, the study points out, and GE is likely to want to clean it thor­oughly be­fore any other use can be con­sid­ered so it isn’t left li­able – and that could take years.

The Cana­dian Ca­noe Mu­seum site on Mon­aghan Rd. doesn’t rate much bet­ter; the con­sul­tants don’t sug­gest it, ei­ther.

The city would have to buy the land from the mu­seum, the study states, but it would also have to buy and de­mol­ish the se­ries of com­mer­cial build­ings to the south (Michaels, Pet Smart and other build­ings) to make the site work.

Here are some key pros and cons, re­gard­ing the other sites on the short­list:

• No Frills (Ge­orge St. N.):

Pros: Down­town, on a river­front lo­ca­tion

Cons: It’s pri­vately owned, and even if the city could buy the land it would mean the loss of a down­town gro­cery store. The site is also tight – not large enough to ac­com­mo­date a sec­ond ice pad.

• City Works Yard (Townsend St.):

Pros: Down­town lo­ca­tion that of­fers a chance to re­use a brown­field site.

Cons: Al­though the ma­jor­ity of the land is city-owned, the city would have to buy the plaza along Ge­orge St. to make it work – and it has mul­ti­ple own­ers and ten­ants. Also the site is tri­an­gu­lar, and too small to ac­com­mo­date a sec­ond ice pad.

• James Steven­son Park (Burn­ham St.):

Pros: This river­front prop­erty is all city-owned, and large enough to ac­com­mo­date a sec­ond ice pad as well as on-site park­ing.

Cons: The prop­erty is in a flood­plain. Also, the city would have to re­lo­cate a “pre­mium base­ball di­a­mond fa­cil­ity,” the study states – and it’s un­clear whether an­other suit­able site would be avail­able. The Lions Com­mu­nity Cen­tre would have to be re­lo­cated too.

Mean­while there had been some other po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions on a longlist: Peterborough Square was con­sid­ered, for ex­am­ple, but the site was too small to ac­com­mo­date an arena with a sin­gle ice pad, never mind a dou­ble.

The Peterborough Ar­moury was also con­sid­ered, but the prop­erty was re­jected be­cause the Mur­ray St. build­ing is a her­itage build­ing.

In a prior re­port to city coun­cil, Sierra Plan­ning and Man­age­ment called the PMC “ob­so­lete” and sug­gested a new arena/en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre for Peterborough.

The firm re­caps that sen­ti­ment in the lat­est study, say­ing the PMC need about $26 mil­lion in re­pairs and ren­o­va­tions over the next 30 years.

None of this spend­ing would im­prove the ca­pac­ity or “func­tion­al­ity” of the build­ing, the re­port em­pha­sizes.

“Less char­i­ta­bly, it can be viewed as the spend­ing re­quired to main­tain the same level of dys­func­tion­al­ity of the build­ing,” the study states.

City coun­cil­lors meet at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. Mon­day.

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