St. John’s city council Tuesday night officially approved the purchase of 32 acres for a new park in Kenmount Terrace that councillors say is a once-in-a-lifetime project.
At its first regular council meeting following the Sept. 24 municipal election — and last week’s swearing-in — council unanimously gave the go-ahead to the official purchase and sale agreement for the park land, announced in May.
The site, off Messenger Drive, consists of about 40,000 square metres (8.4 acres) of land for recreational activity, next to 120,000 square metres (24 acres) of land suitable for trail development.
The city bought the smaller parcel for $800,000 and the larger wetland parcel for $1, and has agreed to pay half the cost of extending Messenger Drive, estimated to be $1.542 million, making the city’s contribution $771,000. An independent appraisal of the smaller parcel is $1.9 million, according to a report to council.
“It’s a very exciting time,” new Councillor Bernard Davis said following the meeting. “We’ve got a great opportunity here to do something that we’ve never seen in our lifetimes, or anybody’s lifetimes here in St. John’s — to develop a park that can satisfy the needs for not only the area, but the entire region.”
Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth said the deal is a huge one for the city.
“None of us on council will ever see this magnitude of project come forward again,” he said. “It’s not only about open-space development, about trails, it’s about any infrastructure we’re going to put in there, any buildings we put in there for the region. I look at schools in the region: you’ve got St. Andrew’s, you’ve got Leary’s Brook, Larkhall, you’ve got (Prince of Wales Collegiate) — great schools that could avail of these services in this neighbourhood. The neighbourhood itself, people from Paradise, on a regional point of view, can use the facilities. Doing this right is going to be huge for us.”
Council expects to begin public engagement within the next few months to gather input from residents on how the park should be used.