Brockville residents got a sneak review this week on what the next phase of the city’s railway tunnel project might look like.
More than 30 residents attended a public information session to give their views on three design proposals for the former Grand Trunk/CN railway property west of the north-end gorge.
Designer Mark Brandt of MTBA Associates of Ottawa stressed that none of the design concepts are set in stone, and that he planned to use the public input in drafting a final concept design to be presented to city council in September.
The three designs for the 3.2 acres differ in complexity but all contain similar elements:
- There must be a 30-metre planted berm with 2½-metre-high foliage between the park and the CN Rail tracks on the north side.
- The old train turntable will remain as a design feature.
- All buses must come in off William Street via Peal Street.
- There is a parking lot on the west side for four buses and at least 50 cars.
- A tall beacon would be built to guide motorists and tourists to the site.
- The site would be linked to the Brock Trail.
- There will be outdoor space for community gatherings.
- There would be a playground, washrooms and a ticket office.
The three designs ranged from a base model to ones with an amphitheatre, a replica roundhouse building and removable canopies that could cover farmers’ markets.
The designs make use of old boxcars and railway equipment. One idea would see an old train station rebuilt on the site to be used for tourist information and public washrooms.
The more complicated designs would obviously cost more than the simplest, but Brandt said the public should not get hung up on cost when choosing a design.
Costs can be controlled by creative use of old boxcars and other cost-cutting measures, he said. As well, the tunnel group could choose to build the park in phases as money allows over the years or decades, he said.
The Brockville Railway Tunnel Park Development Project, which is raising money for the project, has set aside $500,000 for the north-end project and $3.3 million for tunnel itself. So far, the city has chipped in $300,000.
The goal is to turn Brockville’s railway tunnel, called Canada’s oldest, into a tourist attraction for the city.
At this week’s public meeting, the residents broke into groups to critique the three design proposals.
Several residents said the proposed amphitheatre was too close to the railway tracks, raising concerns that the rumble of trains might drown out the performances.
Some had suggestions on how to improve the look of the planned berm while others wanted it eliminated entirely.
The MTBA crew said the berm is required by the railway, federal government and the city’s own bylaws.
Brandt said MTBA will present the results of the public consultation to the tunnel committee in a week. With the committee’s input, the architects will work on a final design proposal, which they hope to have ready for the tunnel’s official opening at Rails to Trails on Aug. 10-13, although Brandt said the timing might be tight.
Once the final design is proposed it will be presented at another public meeting, then revised for presentation to city council before its last meeting in September.
Article by: Wayne Lowrie
Original article link available HERE