Council refuses to heed safety warnings
by Chris Pickup
There are some very serious concerns about the new Cayuga Library location, in particular the volume and type of traffic on Hwy. 3 (Talbot) as it passes the announced new library site on the old Cayuga Hotel property.
This blindsided Cayuga residents who had been told their new library would be on the Market Square (aka Village Green) where the current library sits.
According to Coun. Morison in February 2014: “The current proposal for the new Cayuga library is to replace the current library in the position of the existing Cayuga fire hall and to make the library larger with a community room. This is scheduled for 2015. The Village Green will be landscaped and converted into an improved and enhanced park. Details are yet to be determined and finalized, and community input is welcomed.”
Yet this eminently sensible proposal somehow morphed into a bizarre blending of the library and Haldimand museum into one large entity with the barest minimum of parking on the most unsafe site in the whole of Cayuga.
A number of Cayuga residents have expressed their horror at the traffic and concerns about child safety. Since nothing can be done about the traffic on the Hwy. 3 artery, it makes sense to keep the kids out of the area.
Despite repeated requests, Haldimand council has refused to confirm whether or not a location/safety analysis was done for the best site, or any kind of traffic count.
Frustrated Cayuga residents Grant Church and David McClung therefore did their own informal counts. A grand total of 1,227 vehicles passed in front of the Cayuga Hotel, including 1,009 cars and light trucks (pick-up trucks and delivery vans), and 118 heavy trucks. The number of trucks was probably abnormally low for westbound vehicles because the Enforcement Division of the Ministry of Transportation was doing random compliance checks on Talbot Street in Cayuga all that day. Nevertheless, there were 118 heavy trucks in 103 minutes.
Within weeks of residents ramping up their complaints, the county turned around and contracted an architectural firm to design the project. Their plans are ready for review, with no input from the community, and the county is already pre-qualifying contractors.
A random survey done by several people of residents exiting stores, walking down the street, and going door to door asked the simple question, where would you like the new library. 81 percent voted for the Market Square, 13 percent for the hotel site, and the rest were no comments.
The county cited an economic-driver-for-downtown-development rationale for relocating the library. Surely a better economic driver would be for the county to get the site shovel-ready to pull in some kind of commercial development.
(Insert pic: back of current library w/cutline)
Grounds behind the current library and the old firehall to the right. The firehall was to be demolished to make way for the new library and the current library torn down when it was no longer needed. To the left out of the frame is more green space hosting a gazebo and seating area with a bench.
Councillor Fred Morison, who county staffer Hugh Hanly said was the impetus for the hotel site, gave the excuse at an August council in committee that if the county put the new library and its parking lot on the site of the existing library, there would be ‘very little’ green space left. He produced no evidence, no drawing, no calculation to back up his claim. So, a savvy local citizen took to the County’s website to do some research on the subject.
His findings: The new library – building and parking lot together – would occupy a total of 27.2% of the available land area, and the remaining 72.8% would be available for greenspace. This is what Mr. Morison referred to as ‘very little’.
Market Square detailed calculations
Why the old firehall has not yet been demolished is a mystery since the new fire hall is in operation in its much more suitable site. Coun. Morison has indicated an arts group might want to use it. But It’s inconceivable any artist would want to work in what is essentially a dilapidated parking garage with no natural light when there are lots of empty storefronts around town. One suspects it’s being used as a piug to keep the new library from being sited there.