The Pictou and Area Lions Club has hit a stumbling block in its quest to develop the old quarry pond and area off Brown’s Point Road into an accessible public park.
The space is approximately 20 acres with a spring-fed pond. There is ample parking, plenty of greenery and they see lots of potential for the area.
What is concerning to the club, says Lions Club member Peter Boyles, is what they see as the Town of Pictou backing down on its promise.
“We were told that if we could get the public support we were good to go ahead. Well, we got the support, but the town won’t back down on the 90-day lease agreement.”
Basically, this agreement means that either party — the town or the Lions Club — can give notice to end the lease agreement with 90 days of notice. The town owns the property. The Lions Club wants to lease it for 10 years and develop it for the community. They are willing to do the work and apply for grants to get it done.
To determine public interest, the Lions Club asked for expressions of interest from community members at an open house held at the quarry on August 12. On that day, Boyles said, Lions collected signatures from 140 people who supported the project, another 40 or so who called in and approximately 1,000 who showed support through Pictou Proud’s social media sites.
“The town is saying they want the agreement in case someone comes along and wants to develop that piece of land. But in the past 40 years no one has come along to say they want it. And look at all the town land around at the rotary…”
Boyles said the Lions Club would not be able to secure grants or funding to develop the park if the 90-day lease agreement is in place. “Who’s going to give us funding with that? In 90 days, the town could say they want the land back. We’d never sign anything like that and I don’t think there’s anybody who would give us grant money if that is the case.”
Several local organizations had expressed wanting to get involved in this venture and others demonstrated a willingness to provide grants, Boyles said.
“We made a deal with the mayor that we would have that gathering and we have the expressions of interest. We showed them we have the support … we met their requirements. Why are they determined to stop this when it could be something that draws people to the other land they have?”
The next step for the Lions Cub, Boyles said, is to send a letter to the mayor and town council asking to address council on the issue again. “When we get the date for that meeting we are also going to be asking the public to come and back us up at the meeting, if they want this. We think the elected officials should be supporting the wishes of the majority. This is for the betterment of the town.”
A call and email to Mayor Jim Ryan were not returned as of press time.