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Former fairgrounds to get makeover


INNISFIL -- Land in Cookstown with a storied past now has a new future in store.

Proposals for the former Cookstown fairgrounds were presented during a Jan. 31 open house.

When the town took over the grounds from the Cookstown Agricultural Society, it got more than just land for the new Cookstown Public Library & Community Centre, and the property leased to the Cookstown Curling Club.

The town also took over 12 acres of open space for a new community park.

In August of 2011, the municipality retained Henry Kortekaas and Associates, landscape architects, to develop a plan for the park, which were presented to the public on Tuesday night.

The proposal calls for phasing of the development of the lands, located off Church Street at the north-east corner of the village. Phase 1 would include a patio area with a brickwork labyrinth, benches and landscaping adjacent to the library; a sand play area for tots, trails and a recycled-water splash pad with water features.

Phase 2 would see the construction of a paved multi-use playing court, that could be used for ice hockey and recreational skating in winter, and for road hockey, basketball and even concerts and outdoor movies in summer.

"I think it's a great plan," said recreation manager Sid Armatage. "We hope to go to contract for the water play area this spring. We hope to get the water play area in place by summer."

Armatage noted the full cost of developing the Cookstown Community Park would be about $1 million -- with the town budgeting $430,000 for Phase 1 alone -- and about $200,000 for the splash pad. With funds raised by the library, he was hopeful that most if not all of the first phase could be completed.

"This park has opportunities to have lively, entertaining and diverse activity," said Kortekaas, who was at the open house answering a steady stream of questions from Cookstown residents. "It's a nice place to go. It complements the library."

Input gathered from the public at the open house, as well as other comments which can be sent to the town, will be forwarded to town staff to be considered in their future report to council.