Thursday night I attended the Town of Aurora’s Public Open House to review the draft Sport Plan and Parks & Rec. Master Plan.
Expecting the audience to equal that of the Open House for the Joint Oops Centre which totaled 9: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/joint-ops-pain/ I was surprised to see the council chambers full. I counted almost 80 people.
After subtracting, Klaus Wehrenberg a handful of people from SportAurora and a few were interested in aquatics it still left a sizeable mob that were interested less about Parks and Recreation in general, but what it specifically means to one sport: tennis.
45 identified themselves as members of the soon to be closed Timberlane club. Their beef is that the Town of Aurora does not provide an indoor tennis facility. Something this group could make use of when their club gets bulldozed to make way town homes.
I noticed that members of this group have formed a tennisinaurora.com site and have taken to asking questions of council on Facebook, here’s a recent one:
To understand why there have been so many delays on the development of a future indoor tennis facility perhaps this group needs to ask former councilor and wannabe “Mayor Gallo”. The crowd that was at Thursday’s meeting referencing him by name when discussing the tennis dome project at Stewart Burnett Park.
But before we dig into that pile of stupid we should also recall Gallo’s attempt to cock-block a tennis court at David English Park back in 2012: https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/top-spin/
Fast forward to the Aurora council meeting of April 8th, 2014 where council was evaluating that RFP which involves a six court air-supported dome through partnership with Canada Winter tennis who would finance the entire project and go on to offer a lease payment of $9,000 to the Town annually pegged at an annual inflation rate at three per cent.
It is the Error Banner article covering this meeting that this tennisinaurora.com group has referenced in their facebookmessage: http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/4456460-aurora-indoor-tennis-facility-decision- delayed/#.Vln_D231eEU
If they bothered to read the article they would see Gallo quote: “I don’t think the dome is good enough to service our residents.”
Here is the Auroran article: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=6143
In it John Gallo is quoted:
“I knew this was going to happen and I was pretty much predicting this kind of outcome that based on those terms of reference, proposals that were grander or different [than just six tennis courts] would be right off the table right away. [Because] the terms of reference were very specific we got very specific proposals. The ones outside of that could not have moved forward.”
Terms of reference are specific for a reason, the reason clarified by the town’s solicitor and parks director. They also help to keep a project moving forward.
In October 2013 Gallo attempted to interfere with the town’s RFP process as covered in The Auroran here: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=4092
The Town’s Director of Parks and Recreation explains the problems with what Gallo was advocating:
“We need to define what we’re looking for and I thought we did that very well in the expression of interest. If the proponent wishes to go outside of that, they’re welcome to, however, it won’t be evaluated as part of the RFP because it is not what was directed by Council to be sent out as an RFP. Some of the proponents have called and said, can we put in a proposal for a bubbled facility and can we put in a proposal for a building? Absolutely. You can compare apples to apples with that, but not the number of courts in the footprint that we have established.”
The answer to the question why the project has been delayed so long is found when reviewing council’s April 8th meeting through the following Robbers video link here between 34:15 – 1:22:26: http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=69&sid=3186&gid=204402
Gallo’s motion effectively derails the process. It was supported by Clrs. Gallo, Ballard, Humfreys, Abel, Gaertner.
In August of 2014 as Timberlane prepared for its final year of operations, Mr. Ramsbottom is reflective about the future of indoor tennis in Aurora in this Auroran article: http://www.newspapers-online.com/auroran/?p=7791
“No firm decision has been made yet as far as an indoor tennis facility at Stewart Burnett Park and with remaining land at a premium in Town, he says he sees few options going forward.”
Immediately following that article council received a letter voicing frustration with the pace of the RFP process. Former Clr. Buck posted it on her blog here: http://evelynmbuck.blogspot.ca/2014/08/another-pesky-faustian-deal.html
Here was her take:
It seems the Tennis Club didn’t just want a covered facility. They want the town to provide a permanent structure, with foundations and all to replace Timberline private tennis club. A Bubble with all amenities, provided by a private contractor was not what they had in mind.
From attending the meeting last Thursday night I can confirm that this group’s expectation remains exactly as stated above.
A comment on Buck’s blog post reads:
“I never could figure out what happened with the proposed tennis bubble – it was to cost the town nothing & could have been done this year in time for the over-lap with Timberlane. Staff supported it & it looked like a Go until Cllr Gallo announced that it might be unsightly. [ there are bubbles in other towns – they look like bubbles, period ]. Then suggestions were made about including other sports groups . There was a brief skirmish at the table during which the bubble was shelved. Another good idea that got lost. The good news is that Timberlane is not shutting down now – they have more time.”
But that time has evaporated, and instead of a seamless transition this entitled group from Timberlane continue to dig in their heels in hopes the town will replicate their elite club citing Markham as an example of a municipality having built what they desire.
Terry Redvers, who is involved with Aurora’s already existing Sports Dome: http://www.aurorasportsdome.com/ provided some insight to this group as to how Markham heavily subsidizes this indoor facility so that court fees cost users around $20, instead of the actual rate of $40. He went on to point out how air-supported structures provide a considerably lower initial cost than conventional buildings.
While there’s whining and gnashing of teeth here in Aurora the Thornhill Park Tennis Club is ecstatic to operate from a “state-of-the-art facility” complete with four courts, new lighting and clubhouse, as outlined in this September 2014 Banner article: http://www.yorkregion.com/sports-story/4857700-tennis-club-taking-it-indoors/
Instead of poo-pooing an air-supported structure the club’s indoor facility manager is confident the sport’s profile in Thornhill will be heightened.
Thornhill not a good enough comparative? Okay, what about the neighbouring Ballantrae Tennis Club.
Back in 2013 the Banner reported their plans to build a bubble featuring 4 tennis courts and 1,000 square foot club-house that would house male and female change rooms/showers and washrooms, along with social/viewing and administrative spaces: http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/1935485-indoor-tennis-anyone-/
The article’s outlines an impressive level of programming recognizing the full intent to take advantage of the closing of the one at Newmarket’s Glenway Golf & Country Club. The proposed facility would not only attract local residents, but players from Aurora, King, Markham, Mount Albert, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Uxbridge.
One town Councillor is quoted: “It’s so wonderful to see somebody proposing (a project) and not asking so much of us,”
Basically the complete opposite of what has unfolded here in Aurora.