Cleaning up and restoring Gray Park and Kinsmen Park to their former glory will get started in 2017.
A visit by Harrison Gray to the town council meeting on Feb. 1, has resulted in continued discussions on plans for both public parks in 2017.
He explained that Gray Park is something that he is very proud of. Gray Park is located on the east side of Wheatland Trail in Strathmore. There are pathways, a gravel parking lot and wildlife, like birds, that live in the park.
“Over the many years, Gray’s Ltd. has put a lot of time and energy into developing this park at no financial cost to the town in any form of money, manpower, equipment, material, planning or labour,” said Gray.
“It’s something I am very proud of.”
Gray also outlined plans he has had for Kinsmen Park, and gave council a bit of a history lesson on the maintenance of the lake and construction of the park.
“Kinsmen Park is a jewel in downtown Strathmore,” Gray said.
Gray expressed frustration when trying to contact the town regarding upgrades to both parks. He said that he has been trying to contact members of town council and staff since December 2015.
“I am not out there to create a problem,” he said. “I am here to improve it.”
He explained that after contacting each council member and the mayor, only councillor Steve Grajczyk replied.
Councillor Pat Fule apologized for himself and members of council for not getting back to Gray. He asked Gray what he thought the town should do about the damage to the pathways.
Gray talked about the history of the park, but noted that he was not aware if improvements were made to Gray Park in 30 years.
Plans for Gray Park include planting trees on the southeast hill, benches and tables, and building up the rock wall on Wheatland Trail, as well as renovations to the gravel parking lot, fixing pathways, cutting brush and planting wild flowers.
“I have more benches and tables being built and I would like to construct a rock wall along Hwy 817/ Wheatland Trail, which is the pathway is now being eroded,” he said.
“To my knowledge the walking path along Highway 817 has been repaired twice.”
Gray has been in contact with the town’s parks staff and organizations like Ducks Unlimited about signs in the park.
Councillor Grajczyk asked administration if council could be assured that they will be getting together with Gray. Chief Administrative Officer James Thackray said staff has been in contact with Gray and will continue meeting with Gray.
In terms of Kinsmen Park, Gray said he is one of the founding members of the Kinsmen Club of Strathmore.
He outlined a series of concerns related to the park. He suggested that the lake has not been drained in 20 years, nor has it been cleaned.
He explained that originally there was a fountain in the centre of the lake with lights. There are three storm drains in the lake that have not been cleaned and in the early years the lake was drained twice.
There used to be four fishing docks and now there are three, and that there is a problem with the irrigation on the east side of the lake.
He explained that Gray’s Ltd. planted all of the trees at no charge to the town.
“I hope the mayor and the council will look into my concerns and take a few steps so that we can make this an environmentally beautiful park in a constructive way,” said Gray.
CAO Thackray said that the town is onside with Gray’s suggestions and that the lake needs to be cleaned up. He suggested that the Kinsmen Lake cleanup could be a Canada 150 initiative.
Mayor Michael Ell agreed that Kinsmen Park is a gem in the community.
Gray suggested that the town drain it in the fall.