For the past few years, Council has been concerned about the use of the Guy Lombardo Museum facility. Attendance at the museum had been falling as the population ages and few young people have knowledge of or interest in the music of the big band era. It was difficult to justify spending about $25,000 per year when visitors averaged only 1 or 2 per day over the course of a year. Reluctantly, we decided that the collection needed a different venue and that the building should be re-purposed to serve a broader public interest.
A community task force, the Legacy Project, was struck to search out alternatives for the collection. It is currently in the process of identifying partners and facilities to accomplish this. To ensure that the Guy Lombardo legacy was not lost, the new pavilion at Springbank Gardens (formerly Wonderland Gardens) was named in his honour. The Gardens have been very popular with community groups since its opening.
In February of 2009, Council voted to renovate the remaining museum building to meet increasing recreational needs. The location is ideal since it has good parking facilities, is located along a multipurpose path and close to the river and Springbank Gardens. Then, when applications for the federal stimulus funding came along, we had a perfect shovel-ready project. It was approved last June and this week we had an opportunity to view the plans and hire the contractor to undertake the work.
It is a relatively small project, only $500,600, of which the city will pay one third and the federal and provincial governments sharing the remainder. By adding 1,000 square feet to the existing facility and incorporating some attractive design features, we will have a year round facility for our Spectrum physical activity programs serving some 3000 users each season. When not used for activities like pilates or yoga, the space will be available to rented by community groups. And the washrooms will be fully accessible year round. All this, for about $175,000. The cost of maintaining this new facility will be about $23,000 per year, still less than what the original museum cost the city to operate.
This new facility will be very welcome as a means of ensuring that everyone can enjoy the park and remain physically active year round. Let's get those shovels in the ground!