Drawings proceed for new library in Cobden despite some objections

·6 min read

Cobden – Tentative plans are progressing for a new library in the village which will be attached to the Astrolabe Arena, but not all in the vicinity are pleased with the concept.

Adjacent homeowners Paul and Alana Zadow, who purchased their “forever” home in a new development are concerned about noise, lack of sunshine and a loss of scenery at their home which is located north of the Cobden Curling Club and Astrolabe Arena.

“In fact, the “for sale” advertisements specifically indicated, and we were reassured when we inquired, that there would be no rear neighbours -- only a parking lot and potential soccer fields,” they wrote in a letter to council. “A large library situated within 10-15 feet behind your home constitutes a rear neighbour in our minds. Had we known the potential for this library location, it would have had a large bearing on whether or not we (and our neighbours) purchased our homes.”

The couple wrote to council requesting to purchase a small strip of land between their property and the municipally-owned facilities. Their hope was to enlarge their holding to provide them with more side yard living space, to construct a small garage or large shed to house some of their “toys,” as they stated, and to ensure those lands remain private.

“Our concern here is privacy, public safety. Littering, noise and liability (should someone enter onto our property rather than municipal property when using that space),” they explained in a letter to council. “We are also concerned that there will be bicycles, ATVs and snowmobiles using this space as a ‘short-cut’ to get to the back of the arena. Can you imagine the sound of an ATV or snowmobile running 10 feet from your home at 1 o’clock in the morning? We ask council – would you like something like that so close to your home?

“This is intended to be our forever home, so it is a big deal for us. Please consider selling the small portion of land to us as it would definitely increase our enjoyment of the home and the municipality.”

The Zadows were also upset about the plan to construct an addition to the back of the arena to house a new Cobden Public Library, which has outgrown its present location within the Caressant Care complex on Wren Drive in the village.

“This is a huge concern to not only my husband and I, but also to the group of neighbours in our new development and we want to submit our objection to this,” they stated. “When we all purchased our homes, we were not advised by the builder or real estate agents that there was a chance of a library being constructed immediately behind our homes.”

The Zadows say they do not object to the upgrades to the arena and community center, but rather look forward to them. They do object to the library in that location. They are concerned a large building directly behind them would restrict airflow and sunshine.

“It would increase rear traffic, both vehicle and pedestrian, and potentially other noisy vehicles,” they wrote. “We acknowledge we don’t have a right to a view, but having said that, we enjoy the scenery we can see in the distance that makes Whitewater Region so beautiful.”

The township provided them with a couple of draft proposals for the location of the library, one of which was using a site at the opposite end of the arena.

“We have no issue with this location,” they continued. “It would not create unnecessary traffic or noise, nor affect our enjoyment of our back yards. It would make access points less work and expense for the municipality, because they would be minimized.”

Council agreed with a staff recommendation the request to purchase land be formally denied as the lands were received for park land and recreation purposes. The area is intended for a pathway connecting Astrolabe Road to the future addition and park space. It may also be used to service the new addition. Should council adopt such a position, the requestors will also be notified to stop using the land for personal use, i.e., parking.

The library was added to the addition to deal with space issues at the current Cobden branch, which is located within a seniors’ retirement residence. Feedback was received from the library board and staff on space and design.

Several councillors commented the walkway should be fenced to prevent traffic from encroaching on neighbouring properties. CAO Robert Tremblay responded this will be addressed in the site plan process.

Design and Engineering for New Library

Tentative plans are progressing for the library as council instructed the architect to complete detailed design and engineering drawings.

In 2019, the township received funding from the province to improve service delivery and efficiency. A portion of these funds was allocated to the Cobden Astrolabe Arena project to complete detailed design for the renovation and addition. A space needs study was completed in 2018 and a request for proposals was issued to select a qualified firm to complete detail design. It was awarded to Architecture49 Inc. in collaboration with WSP Engineering.

The project is required to improve the overall accessibility within the facility to ensure that all members of the public can access it. It will also renew aging infrastructure which will improve dressing room capacity, office space, community meeting space, and additional opportunities for a new Cobden Library branch.

The project will also include a new parking lot to support the traffic flow of significant events which are historically held in the existing parking spaces.

The township hosted an information open house on February 13, 2020, attended by approximately 50 people from the community to review the displayed design and provide feedback. The feedback was analyzed by the Parks and Recreation committee along with the project architect. The CAO followed up with the Whitewater Region Public Library Board to confirm their desire for space. The CAO, mayor and reeve met with three members of the Cobden Agricultural Society to address their concerns. The detailed design would allow the project to be shovel-ready for senior level funding.

An application to that effect was submitted to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a funding program cost-shared between the federal government, provinces and territories, and the ultimate recipients.

The awarded RFP for detailed design for the Cobden Astrolabe Arena renovation and addition will cost $178,050.12 after HST rebate.

The township applied for funding through the Investing in Canada infrastructure program to help offset the $4 million project itself. If successful, the grant could cover up to 73 per cent of the cost.

The addition project will only proceed when a source of funding is secured.

Marie Zettler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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