Residents who live near the park are not thrilled with the school board’s plan to install a synthetic soccer field; the deadline for public consultation has passed
Students at Thorold High School might be excited to play football on a new synthetic turf field at McMillan Park, but some local residents believe the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) is trying to rob them the park.
“To completely evict the neighborhood and turn it into a complete Astroturf football field and running track does not serve 90% of the people who live here,” says Ian Woods, a resident of Thorold. “We have older people using it, we have young children, young families. What are they going to do with a football field?
As reported by ThoroldToday, the DSBN has offered to install a full-size synthetic turf football pitch at McMillan Park. The park’s existing baseball diamond would remain in place, but the wading pool and playground would need to be moved.
This last part of the proposal is what bothers Woods the most.
“Worst-case scenario, I have a football pitch and a running track in my garden and I can go and practice on the big artificial pitch,” he says. “But my children, who are seven and five, are losing the ability to walk down the street and go to a paddling pool on Saturday mornings. Every day after school we go to the playground and we also use the open space for our dog. It will make the city easier, but why does my neighborhood have to give up its park?
Under the current proposal, a new location for the paddling pool has yet to be determined. Woods fears the city will eventually kidnap him.
“I know my neighborhood, I walk through it daily,” he says. “There is no green space or plot of land available for sale, or that the city owns, that they could convert. So this neighborhood that we have, growing in families, we’re not going to have what we have now. They are going to remove our park for a high school that is 150 years old because they are slowly outgrowing their space. I think it’s shortsighted.
A few weeks ago, the town of Thorold asked residents for feedback on the proposal, but Woods believes that request came too late.
“I received a flyer on February 8 and it said I had until the 15th to provide feedback,” he says. “I only had a week to sort of figure out what was really going on. I talked to all my neighbors. Ninety percent had no idea it was happening.
Woods, who lives six doors down from the park entrance, thinks the city doesn’t really care what locals think.
“Conversations have already taken place between the school board and the city and the councillors,” says Woods. “And now they’re the ones saying, ‘Okay, let’s see what the audience has to say.’ It wasn’t shouted loud enough.
In the end, Woods doesn’t hope he can save the park.
“For me personally, I feel like it’s already gone, nothing can stop it,” he says. “If that’s what happens, I’m going to have to suck it.” If it’s a facility I can use, I’ll use it, but at the same time, I don’t have to be okay with it. I’ll get over it eventually, but where are my kids going to play? »