Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sand's a Comin'!

According to Michael Butler of councillor Perks' office, the arrival of the new sand is imminent! By the second week of July, the sparrows should be bathing in fresh sand. Hooray!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Response and Plans From our Meeting

I've heard back from councillor Perks' office's Michael Butler. Please have a read and feel free to add any recommendations or ideas in the comment field. The wheels are in motion, hopefully we will see the sand soon and the next meeting should firmly set what is to come over the next year or so.

Hello Ritchie Parkette folks,
It has been approximately a month since our meeting and Parks staff has followed up with me on some of the questions asked.  Below are my minutes from the meeting if you need a reminder of the topics discussed, and further below is the information Ray Stukas from Parks has provided me with.  As well, there is also a link to some possible purchases we could look at; take a peak, chat with your neighbours, and let me know what you are thinking.  I will schedule a meeting at some point further along in the summer once people have had time to brainstorm with their community.  As always, don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions and please feel free to share this email with your neighbours.
Take care.

"May 22nd, 2012 6:30-8:00 Community Meeting Notes:

Meeting started off with Mike explaining why we are having a meeting, to get the knowledge and input of the parents and children who use the playground daily on ways to improve Ritchie Parkette. Over 25 people in attendance plus their children.

Ray Stukas spoke about his experience in the City and what he does.

Mike spoke about new sand coming in 2012, the possibility of additional back lighting in the 2013 minor capital budget.  As well staff has been asked to look into the broken water fountain.  Briefly discussed the possibility of a new lexan ping pong table.

Things the community likes about the park:

• People noted they liked the location and intimate feel, the fact that it is closed in and a safe place, no through traffic on street,  that there are trees, a mixture of different types of space,  a great selling feature for buying/selling a house, a hub for community events and building, and that there is one entrance so it is easier for parents to watch kids.

Aspects that could use change or improvement:

• It was noted that kids can hide in the back corner (aprox north-east corner) where there is little visibility and people pee back there.  There was a comment that this area needs to be utilized better maybe by levelling it off, putting a picknick table there, sod, aerate soil.  Ray stated he could look into this but that he would have to be conscious of damaging the trees.  Later there was discussion about removing one of the trees in this area or other areas to make more space,  Councillor Perks clearly stated he would not support such an initiative.
• There is sometimes an issue with young ruffians coming to the park later in the evening who scare away little kids and take over.  Police have not been coming by on patrols in the evening as often as they used to.  Mike noted he would let the community police liaison know about the issue so they can act accordingly. 
• There was unanimous consensus to take the pergola down and open the area up for the time being as a green space.  The pergola is wobbly, older teens climb on it, no plants are growing on it, etc, it does not have a us for the community.  Ray stated it wouldn't be too difficult to have the pergola removed.  Councillor Perks asked again if everyone is ok with this, the community confirmed.
• There was discussion about the water fountain which due to its proximity to the sand is always broken.  Residents expressed interest in having the water fountain moved to another location that is not right beside the sandbox. Ray will look into this.
• There was some talk about the possibility of woodchips vs sand, there was no clear consensus on the issue.  Councillor Perks noted the city has 'new sand technology' that he is told supposedly is better than the current sand we have, the new sand coming in will be this.
• A resident mentioned that the red spiral climber was coming loose, Ray will look into this.
• It was noted that although the parkette is not very large residents would like to see if there was a way to expand green space so smaller kids could play soccer, football, running room, etc.
• It was brought up that another swing set, or additional swings might be worthwhile as there is a high demand from kids.  Ray will look into this.
• In the back there is currently lighting being run from one of the houses, this will need to be removed.  This lead to a discussion about additional directional lighting for the back pad.  Ray will look into this for the 2013 minor capital budget.
• There was discussion of removing a one of the picknick tables to create more space, or if the back corner is re-landscaped, putting it there.  Ray will look into these options.
• Concerns were raised about the parkette becoming a place for older teens or adults to hang out at and have noisy social events (as opposed to family community events) in the evening.  The group agreed it should remained focused on young children and families in the community.
• The community would like to see a list of possible purchases (i.e. ping pong table, climbing wall, etc) they could have for the parkette.  A list/catalogue will be provided.
• A question was asked if section 37 funding from proposed near by developments (i.e Howard Park, etc) was the source of the funding.  Councillor Perks stated that the money has come from juggling budgets around, ward wide section 37, and that any money from near by developments would not be available for numerous years as they have not yet even had site plans approved.
• There was discussion about getting an additional entrances at the back of the park.  Residents had a mixed opinion on this proposal; some felt it would allow a wider amount of people to enter, others felt that they felt it was easier to supervise children and safer without a back entrance.  Councillor Perks spoke to the fact not having an entrance at the back makes policing easier (and the park less attractive for illegal activity as there is no easy escape), traffic safety concerns with vehicles coming down the alley and not being able to see children as they run out.l
• Finally, the group mentioned the list on the friends of ritchie parkette website and the possibility of getting some cost estimates (the list includes: new sands or wood chips, new benches, a functioning water fountain, water access in the winter for the skating rink, a weatherproof ping pong table, tearing down the pergola for more usable green space increased maintenance, bbq, climbing wall, Roofed area, latch door access to the laneway, bulletin board for community notices, imax theatre, new grass, tether ball.  Ray stated he could help provide some cost estimates and further expertise.
If you or your neighbours have any further ideas or questions please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to answer them or for more technical questions forward them onto Ray Stukas."
June 22nd, 2012,
"I have received an update from Ray Stukas (RStukas@toronto.ca) on some of the questions that were asked at the meeting.  He states,
• Our Parks Construction Supervisor has advised me an additional swing bay (1 strap and 1 baby swing) can be added. This will be done in July.

• The requests to move the water fountain and additional lighting in the back of the parkette have been added to the 2013 Minor Capital list. Priorities for the coming year are set for the District towards the end of the year. Please note Health and Safety issues are given priority. In this case we would consider the lighting a Health and Safety issue.
• Will be meeting with Forestry to have their input on how much fill we can add in the back corner before we affect root zones of the adjacent trees. Relocating the table will depend on how much level area we can create in the northeast corner. (We have a new Parks Supervisor for this Ward and I will take him to Ritchie once he gets settled in)
• The  pergola roof was taken down Wednesday. The posts are in saddles which have to be ground down. Should be done today. We didn't want to lift the concrete footings out of the ground because large holes would be left which would be filled now but not seeded or sodded until the weather cools.

• There is a good comprehensive website at www.abcrecreation.com which is one of the companies that provides playground equipment to the City. Click on the Ontario section. Please remember that any playground equipment bought and installed in Toronto Parks must follow our Purchasing procedures. It is very difficult to Sole Source this type of item so we may not be able to obtain the exactly model identified. The website will give residents an idea of what is out there and when the time comes we will write the specifications accordingly."
Michael Butler
Constituency Assistant
City Of Toronto
Office Of Councillor Gord Perks - Ward 14
100 Queen Street West, Suite A14
Toronto, ON  M5H 2N2
Phone: 416-392-0202
Fax: 416-392-0398