Published on July 08, 2014
The executive committee has green-lit administration to test the waters for redevelopment proposals on the Natatorium and Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool, in spite of resistance from some members who sit on the body.
Published on July 08, 2014
Jody Hauta (left), Moose Jaw's director of parks and recreation, outlines the RFP process the city would enter into if approved.
RFP green-lit by executive committee
Sentiment was lukewarm on the future of the Natatorium and Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool at the executive committee table, so they're going to test the community's waters.
The committee considered a motion to allow a request for proposals (RFP) to be put out on the property.
Coun. Brian Swanson explicitly rejected the notion of the site — and particularly, the outdoor pool — being redeveloped.
"The idea that we'll allow someone to take over the Nat and demolish the outdoor pool and then build something there, in Crescent Park, is just out of the question for me," Swanson told the rest of the committee. "To allow someone to take that property over and replace it with something else is just not an option."
Swanson moved that the RFP should exclude the outdoor pool and its footprint.
"I'm not really interested in seeing what someone would do with the site of the outdoor pool," he said. "It just isn't in the cards for me."
But Matt Noble, Moose Jaw's city manager, said the RFP would have to be an all-or-nothing pitch because "the hardware and mechanical for the outdoor pool is inextricably combined with the natatorium (structure)."
He added that the RFP would just be "a request for people with ideas and concepts … that might be palatable to the community," and that the city would "never know what it is they can say no to" without one.
Coun. Don Mitchell agreed with Noble's sentiment.
"There's all kinds of things I wouldn't like to see in Crescent Park … (but) I'd like to be able to see what's out there and make a judgment," he said. "I know there's public interest in the property."
Coun. Heather Eby supported the idea that the city should see what sort of interest there is in redeveloping the property, but wasn't optimistic about the prospects.
"I don't think anybody is going to want to do anything with the Natatorium," she said. "I just don't have much hope of anything coming back."
Several councillors referred to the RFP and the potential for redevelopment as a "contentious issue," but Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick disagreed with that position.
"I, personally, don't think it is. I think this is an extremely positive move," she told the committee. "We're two years away from 20 years that the city has sat back (since the Natatorium closed). … Trying to get someone to develop that property is not contentious at all. That's being proactive."
Swanson remained adamantly opposed to the RFP.
"I stopped believing the moon was made out of cream cheese a long time ago," he told the committee. "We're now throwing ourselves on the mercy and the kindness of strangers."
Swanson took his argument further, contending that the reason the RFP was being put forward is because the city simply doesn't want to invest in the required repairs to keep the Natatorium and outdoor pool open.
"We have the money to upgrade the software and lighting at the multiplex, but the Natatorium is consistently turned down for anything," he said. "And now, we're going to open it up for people to knock it all down and build something in Crescent Park. That's just not an option for me … and that's why this whole process is really just a giant waste of time."
Eby agreed that the committee is dragging its heels, but didn't agree with Swanson's perception of the cause for their behaviour.
She supported the RFP.
"At least if we put this out there and it's a dead issue, we know it's a dead issue and then I can say, 'I told you so,'" explained Eby. "I don't have much hope for anything coming back, but it is possible."
Ultimately, the executive committee green-lit city administration to put out an RFP on the site by a vote of five to two. Councillors Swanson and Dawn Luhning were opposed.
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