Municipal planners unveiled the future of Herlihey Park at a special Highlands East council meeting March 26.

North Design Office Inc. presented the new master plan for the multi-year park development. The park, situated around Dark Lake, will feature walking trails, a beach, a picnic pavilion and recognition of the history of the area.

“It has phenomenal potential to be a really incredible waterfront park,” North Design Office founding partner Pete North said.

North said the plan has been adjusted based on feedback gathered last summer. Changes include doubling the size of the proposed beach, adding shoreline walking trails and sports facilities such as volleyball nets.

North also highlighted the plan to make the shoreline ecologically resilient, as well as including gardens and forested areas of the park.

“Herlihey Park will be the defining recreational amenity of Wilberforce’s waterfront through a lively mix of programs, activities, and healthy ecologies,” North said.

The plan also includes a nod to the area’s history, as the park is being built on the former site of Wilberforce Veneer and Lumber.

A pumphouse in the park could be used to depict the history, either through murals or historical photographs, he said. He added the images could be put throughout the landscape.

“There were so many really beautiful, historic images of the town,” North said. “This has the potential of taking on some of those images.”

Hilda Clark, one of the residents in attendance, said it is a wonderful plan. But she expressed concern about how much the park would really recognize the history of what it is built on.

“I don’t see … anything that will tell me anything about the lumber industry,” Clark said. “Lumbering and veneering was the heart of this town, of this whole area … nothing is going to pop out unless there are some signs explaining.”

“That’s really, really important. We’re completely inspired by that history,” North responded. “There’s nothing in your face, you’re right and that could certainly be improved or incorporated. The framework allows for that.”

Council voted unanimously to adopt the master plan.

Mayor Dave Burton said the park will be built in phases and is expected to be finished in 2022. The budget has $100,000 allotted to start building the park in 2019, with an expected total cost of approximately $500,000.

“Everybody’s getting excited about it,” Burton said. “We’ve managed to put pretty well everyone’s comments and concerns into the project … I’m looking forward to working on it.”

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