Photo–This is what Riverside Park could look like
When Jim Collins first saw Riverside Park he was impressed with its scenic beauty, and was left wondering what could fill the towns residents of all ages with joy, laughter, and excitement in this wonderful setting. As a resident of Carleton Place for the past 8 years and attending council meetings he has seen projects come and go. Now that our 200th anniversary is approaching Jim thinks a project like building an amphitheatre in Riverside Park would take us back in history to when our first settlers came to live on the riverbanks of was once known as Morphy’s Falls.
For a few years now discussion has been tossed around about building such a structure in Riverside Park and it’s also been put into a long term plan, yet nothing has been done. Back in 2012 when council of the day talked of spending major money on development of Roy Brown Park , Jim questioned them and brought forward a request to develop Riverside Park with an Amphitheatre. It was then added to 10 year plan but sat with no consideration. Jim then wrote current council to consider it going forward, but in May of 2015 it was removed.
Riverside Park-Photo-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
Not one to give up, in January 2016 Jim spoke with Parks & Rec Head, Joanne Henderson, and later to the Town Treasurer, Phil Hogan, regarding the $200,000 on the past 5yr/10yr plans, yet nothing is showing for the future. This time he is bringing the idea for a permanent Amphitheatre to be included in the redevelopment of Riverside Park, under a project for the Carleton Place 200th Anniversary.
As long as water is around, and especially tourists, folks will desire to be near it and yet our local waterfront is neglected. Of course we must first and foremost determine what we intend our waterfront to be. Will it be a tourist attraction? Should our waterfront be lined with mixed-use development? Who is to say that we couldn’t add a new vendor service area making this area even more functional?
Access is also important with any plan, and it means that people can actually interact with the water in many ways–from swimming or fishing, dining or picnicking dockside, boarding boats or feeding the ducks. An iconic structure such as the Amphitheatre could become a draw to the waterfront. Having a covered stage featuring local talent, school bands, and various other events, even live theater, will attract visitors and town residents to the park. It might even create spin offs for the downtown core, also helping in the rejuvenation of Carleton Place.
Deputy Mayor Jerry Flynn concurs with those residents who feel that an amphitheatre in Riverside Park is one of the keys to opening the park to more usage, and at the same time exposing the beauty that the area brings to our town. He believes that many communities with an asset like ours have recognized the value of having an entertainment facility, offering an excellent venue for music, theatre and festivals, with the economic spinoffs that come with it. The Amphitheatre could also be booked for weddings, celebrations and fundraisers. We already have public parking and public washrooms in place, which makes this idea very attractive.
Small towns are what made this country great, and right now we need to stop acting and thinking small. We need real results by hands on support– not just warm and fuzzy feelings or worse yet, not even considering plans. Healthy systems need healthy diversity and this great project for our 200th Anniversary would definitely benefit us.
For Carleton Place to survive , we need new approaches, trends, and changes to bring people to town. If not we might as well go back to being just a collection of gas stations, banks, and churches surrounding the school, post office, and the town hall. Let’s support the new ideas that bubble up to benefit the town without arguing for a change and see where it takes us.
Since we say “Meet me on the Mississippi” we need to get behind this project, make a lot of noise and support it. It’s what we advertise isn’t it?
Author’s Note: I love my town- I hate to see very few shoppers on Bridge Street when I know how hard these people work. Where are the tourists that help supplement income? Very few new ideas are being implemented or considered. I feel like a broken record complaining and maybe will not see change in my lifetime, but my family lives here- your family lives here- and I want change for them so the town thrives. That is why I keep harping that people need to think out of the box. I have also put on events here through the years and know how difficult it is to get co-operation to the point where I have passed my torch on to someone else. Change is desperately needed in how everyone thinks.
Did You Know 100s of People Came to Riverside Park for an Annual Horse Show?--The Horses of Carleton Place– Wonder if they ever had a Merlin?