Pavilion proposed as part of Herlihey Park in Wilberforce

By Chad Ingram

Published Aug. 21 2018

A new boat launch walkways a central lawn and multi-use pavilion are all elements of a proposed conceptual design for what will be Herlihey Park in Wilberforce.

A number of residents attended a special meeting of Highlands East council on Saturday Aug. 18 at the Lloyd Watson Centre to hear a presentation from landscape architect Peter North regarding the plan and to offer feedback.

“We’re putting ideas out there for discussion” North said as he began his presentation noting he’d tried to incorporate ideas from a previous public meeting in July into the design.

The land a seven-plus acre property bordered by Wilberforce’s main drag and Dark Lake was donated to the township by Carol Marcus daughter of the late Harold Herlihey. Herlihey who was an involved community member and municipal politician operated the Wilberforce Veneer and Lumber Company on the property.

“It’s a phenomenal site” North told the room. “It’s a large site by any standards.”

With the park abutting the backs of buildings along Loop Road “I think it’s critical that this park has a connection to the main street” he said.

His design showed a main entranceway to the park located beside Agnew’s General Store with a roadway and parking lot the roadway making its way to a new boat launch on the lake.

The main entranceway would also be the starting point of the park’s main promenade; an accessible walking path that would lead across a large formal lawn toward the lake.

There near the site of the one-time sawmill would be a multi-use pavilion.

A few accessible walking paths would crisscross the property and a second ancillary parking lot was included in the design that one located at the other end of the property near the Irondale River.

The plan also included the possibility of a second boat launch on the Irondale River.

Located in the heart of the property would be a 1.5- to two-acre mowed open lawn.

It would extend down toward a beach area near the pavilion where log seating paying homage to the property’s history would also be located. The design also included a potential docking area near the beach.

“Areas beyond that would have less maintenance over time” North said.

Surrounding the main lawn an “open meadow” area would include longer grasses and be a less formal space than the central lawn.

Then “forested meadow” areas along the park’s peripheries would offer a buffer from nearby roadways.

North said his plan was to maintain as many of the trees on the property as possible as well as other vegetation particularly in shoreline areas.

As for the pavilion which could be used for community events musical performances etc. the rendering showed a large open-sided picnic-shelter-like structure.

North said it was his recommendation that part of that pavilion could be used to house washroom and change room areas and when residents asked where a museum space showcasing the history of the property and the Herlihey family might be located North said it was his recommendation that space also be located within the pavilion building or within the former pump house still located on the property.

North’s design also included a deck on the back of Agnew’s General Store explaining the idea was for people to be able to enter the park through the store perhaps after picking up a sandwich to enjoy.

Residents said they had some concerns about a boat dock being located close to an area where children would be swimming and some said they’d preferred washrooms to be located in a separate building from the pavilion where people would be eating.

Rather than straight walking paths crisscrossing the property some residents said they’d rather see meandering walking paths closer to the lake and others said the potential design didn’t include enough views of the lake.

“We need to be able to see the lake everybody wants to go to the lake” said one attendee.

“And walk beside it” another called out.

Other recommendations from those in attendance were a playground and volleyball court.

“This park is huge but there’s nothing fun there” one attendee said.

North said those kinds of features could be added to the park over time.