Another year, another assault on Legion Park by the City of Cornwall. I can’t say that I am surprised. The consultant agency was directed by numerous City Staff to recommend moving the Park out to the Benson Centre. Cornwall Minor Baseball was grilled by the agency to support moving it out to the Benson Centre.
Shocking that city employees who live in Riverdale want to move another sporting facility into the Riverdale area and out of the East end, but that’s a story for another time. And isn’t this perfectly timed as well, funny this wasn’t brought up before the municipal election, it’s like the city staff purposefully withheld information until after the election. They did not inform the Legion or Cornwall Minor Baseball about this or the electorate. Have they told the citizens that moving the park would cost roughly $5 million.
It was only last year that Mark Boileau was caught red handed trying to negotiate the park land from the Federal Government and I believe the intent was likely to sell it to Clement Construction. Numerous elected officials and city staff involved in secret basement meetings and negotiations to acquire a deal to move the park so they could probably sell it to Clement. When I brought this up at the following Waterfront meeting I was shouted down by no less than 3 people. Told to shut up or I’ll put the project in jeopardy by Andre Rivette, told that there were no negotiations by Denis Carr, because secret basement meetings don’t count as official negotiations and then forbidden to speak by the chair Todd Bennett because I believe he was trying to limit the discussion on this important issue? Funny when there was outrage about the project, Todd Bennett voted at the very next meeting to protect the Waterfront. I suspect he was worried about his campaign to get elected to City Council.
Legion Park is not owned by the City, it is owned by the Federal Government and leased to the Legion as a park dedicated to Veterans. It is a privately operated park. It is a park for the youth of Cornwall to enjoy. Baseball like most sports programs went through a decline (because of demographics) but has seen a huge resurgence in recent years. We hosted the Senior Provincials this past summer.
We had a chance to host Major provincials this year but we removed our name for numerous reasons, one of those being we are in the running to host the Little League Minor National Championships in 2020. That is a huge deal and huge opportunity for our youth. We are also currently in talks with another organization in Montreal to operate another ball League out of the park but it will require lights being built in the park which we are working on. That would mean upwards of a thousand Montrealers travelling to Cornwall every weekend during the summer to use the facilities. Not to mention this is a great opportunity for our youth to play higher level ball.
These projects require a lot of work done by our volunteers who are amazing people from our President to Treasurer and Coaches. We can’t accomplish these goals if we are being obstructed continuously by the City of Cornwall.
It is financially damaging to our organization if the City of Cornwall makes it part of their official plan to destroy our park. We rely on the generosity of Service Clubs like Legion Branch 297 and grants for park maintenance and improvements. It’s hard to go to people for money to repair and improve our beautiful park if the City makes destroying Legion Park as part of the Waterfront Master Plan.
Finally this park has introduced many outsiders to the beauty that is Cornwall’s Waterfront. Many people will never discover our hidden gem if this park is moved.