By Mike Williscraft
Working to very tight deadlines, Town of Grimsby has approved a submission for a Peach King Centre expansion grant application.
The proposed project would serve nine of 10 identified needs highlighted in the Recreation Master Plan which was completed this spring, said Sarah Sweeney, director of Recreation while making a presentation to council on Monday night.
The federal grant program – which included two-thirds federal funding – was rolled out in June and has a Nov. 12 deadline, said Sweeney, noting programs with that level of coverage are rare.
Some of the items included in the expansion proposal are: a full-size, dividable gym; indoor walking track; multi-use rooms; youth room; pre-school space; rooftop leisure space, and; general facility upgrades including parking.
The budgeted cost – which includes contracting a project manager – is $22 million.
The town portion of the bill would be $5.87 million with the remainder being picked up by the federal and provincial governments.
“We don’t want it just to be accessible, we want people to want to come through the doors,” said Sweeney.
With a 4-4.5 per cent impact on the tax levy, members of council were all cognizant of seeking measures to reduce the financial impact and were aware of past failings when it came to cost management. Several Town capital projects were considerably over budget in recent years.
“It is a fantastic opportunity, but we don’t have a good history of project management. How are we going to run this to ensure we don’t overrun projections?
It was also noted by several councillors that everything from tire tax revenues to possibly delaying the start of the project as ways to manage cost.
While Sweeney reiterated a third-party project manager is part of the budget, Coun. Kevin Ritchie noted hiring the right person is key.
“Hire the right people…do that and you can get it in on time and on budget or even under budget,” said Ritchie.
With deadline approaching, Sweeney is optimistic for the plan.
“We have a very strong case, but it will be very competitive,” she said.