For the second year in a row, logging profits are to aid in replacing the aging Houston community hall. (Houston Today photo)

For the second year in a row, logging profits are to aid in replacing the aging Houston community hall. (Houston Today photo)

Hall plan boosted by community forest profits

New hall favoured because of widespread community use

The District of Houston council has held off on a decision on how to use last year’s profits from the District-owned Dungate Community Forest.

Council members did consider options on allocating the $237,188 presented by staffers at the June 1 council meeting but instead asked for more information.

The key option presented was to spend $100,000 on ongoing road improvement projects with the remaining $137,188 placed in the account the District has to replace the aging community hall.

The decision to allocate $100,000 in community forest profits for roadwork not only fits a desire of the council to increase road repairs but of the impact community forest activities have on the District road network.

The funds could be used “to rehabilitate roads being used by the community forest for harvesting activities, including Riverband Drive, 11th Street, Avalon Avenue, Butler Avenue, Omineca Way and East Valley Road,” District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck said in a memo to council where he laid out a number of options.

At the council meeting council not only asked for more information about the above but for cost estimates of different methods of road repairs such as placing new asphalt over an existing layer or grinding up existing asphalt and then combining it with new mix before laying it down.

Approving of using a portion of the community forest’s profits to help finance the replacement of the community hall would follow the community forest board’s stated preference expressed last year. Board members said they favoured using the community forest’s profits on a new hall as the facility would have a broad community use.

Last year’s preference resulted in profiits of $714,505 going toward a new community hall so that with this year’s allocation and other monies, the hall replacement fund will stand at just over $1.2 million.

An original estimated new hall project cost of $4.9 million, however, has now grown to more than $7 million based on a recent updated estimate and preliminary design commissioned by the District.

That $7 million figure does include landscaping, paving, site servicing and a 50 per cent contingency allowance.

Closing the gap between a final construction cost and the money the District has will depend upon a successful application for a senior government grant.

Built at some point in the 1950s, the community hall is approaching the end of its useful life despite the renovations that took place over the years. More work is now needed, including replacing the roof within the next three years.

Council was presented with several options as to what to do with the Dungate profits when it met May 31.

Revitalizing Jamie Baxter Park and Alexandra Park, both estimated to cost $550,000, were on the list as was trail network signs, preparing a plan to revitalize Bymac Park, financing the renovation of the arena lobby, building an outdoor skating rink and undertaking playground safety updates.

One other suggestion was to replace the embedded log perimeter (now considered a safety hazard because of the condition of the logs) of the Steelhead Park playground given its use by locals and proximity to Hwy16.

“Without a proper border around the playground in the park, this will be detracting for people stopping to let their children have a break from a drive as well as local citizens wanting to use it.” said District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck in a memo to council.

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