The Pictou and Area Lions Club sees the beauty and potential in a local spot and wants to develop it for a public park that would be accessible to people of all abilities.
They have dreams of the Pictou Winter Carnival being hosted there with skiing, sledding and skating and more. In summer, they imagine family barbecues and picnics there with plenty of fishing.
The spot is the old quarry pond and area just off Brown’s Point Road. It is a space of approximately 20-plus acres with a spring-fed pond that, at its deepest, is about 12 feet. There is ample parking, plenty of greenery and they see lots of potential for the area for many reasons, including its proximity to the Jitney Trail.
“See that little break in the trees there?” Lions Club member Robbie Forbes gestures. “You can walk right down to the Jitney Trail from here.”
“This is the town’s biggest secret,” says Lions Club member Shawn McNamara, waving his arm to include the expanse of property. “But we don’t want the entire area — just the pond and surrounding area.”
The Town of Pictou owns the property. The Pictou and Area Lions Club wants to lease it from the town for 10 years and develop it further for the enjoyment of the greater community. They are willing to do the work and apply for grants to get it done, but only if it is something the community wants, too.
To determine public interest in the project, the Lions Club is hosting an open house on Saturday, August 12 from 10 a.m. until noon at the quarry pond. Anyone interested in seeing the land developed for wider community enjoyment just has to drop in and show their support. If enough people show they want it, the Lions Club will proceed with development plans. If not, Lions Club member Peter Boyles says the club will not continue.
“We want to get a true feeling for what people want. If they want it, they need to get out and show that they want this.”
Boyles noted that for anyone who is unable to attend the meeting in person — due to work schedule or holiday, etc. — it is important for them to contact their councillor or the mayor to register their support for the project. “But let us (the Lions Club) know as well, so we can keep track of the support we hope to receive.”
The idea for development came when the Lions Club held its first fishing derby last year.
“We decided to have it down here,” says Boyles. “Once everyone came and saw it, we thought we’d like to do more with it.” More than 227 people registered for the derby that day, not to mention the number that came just to fish without registering, and the Lions Club members say that provided lots of exposure for the site and plenty of possibilities for potential.
This year is the 100th anniversary of Lions International. “We thought it would be a great centennial project to turn this into a nice park.”
Boyles says there are other local organizations wanting to get involved in this venture. The Northumberland Strait Shooters Archery Club already uses a portion of it and McNamara says the Pictou Lobster Carnival would be interested in the proposed park’s use. And the Lions Club would like to hear from other non-profits who would be interested in a park development.
The Lions Club is fully insured when it comes to hosting events, Boyles says, so members do not see that as being an issue if their development of the area is to proceed. They say the town has expressed other concerns about leasing it to the Lions Club as well, including being able to use the land if a future commercial development expresses interest in it. But Lions Club members say they are willing to work with the town on settling concerns.
“This is stage one, whether we are going to move on or not,” McNamara explains. “We know there are local businesses curious about what we want to do here,” he listed the businesses that abut the property. “I’m a firm believer that you don’t put the wagon before the horse. So we want to work with them to fill them in on our plans.”
McNamara says, “We’re praying for a good crowd. If there’s not a good crowd, we’re going to shake their (council’s) hand and walk away from it.”
Peter Boyles, left, Robbie Forbes, centre, and Shawn McNamara, all members of the Pictou and Area Lions Club, are hopeful the general public will come out on August 10 to show their support for a park the club is proposing to be located at the quarry pond. (Jardine photo)