County’s newest park is taking shape

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Haliburton County’s newest park – Herlihey Park in Highlands East – is taking shape, and expected to open to the public this year.

Carol and Karl Marcus donated $400,000 to Highlands East to purchase the property in 2017, and donated funds for the master plan. Its name is in honour of their parents, Beatrice and Harold Herlihey. Located on Dark Lake in Wilberforce, the seven-acre property was once home to the Wilberforce veneer plant. The Marcus’ wanted residents to be able to enjoy the property for years to come.

The park will feature walking trails, a beach, a picnic pavilion and recognize the history of the area.

The master plan was presented in 2019, with an expected 2022 completion, but COVID-19 delayed that until 2024.

Public works operations manager, Perry Kelly, told council on March 12, the township was advertising for a contractor to finish the park.

“The tender will be inclusive of everything required to have the park complete as the drawings are shown,” Kelly said. “Staff will then work with the successful proponent through stages of completion.”

He added staff had recently applied for funding to install an EV charging station at the park. If they get the money, he said they’ll work with the consultant to include it in the plans.

“Staff are excited to complete this project,” Kelly added.

Peter North, of North Design Office Inc., which did the master plan, has said, “Herlihey Park will be the defining recreational amenity of Wilberforce’s waterfront through a lively mix of programs, activities, and healthy ecologies.”

Master gardeners

Meanwhile, the Haliburton County Master Gardeners (HCMG) will be working with Highlands East and other partners to naturalize the new park.

Project leads, Carolyn Langdon and Merryn Camphausen, spoke at the March 12 council meeting.

Referencing their work to build a multimedia tour along the Minden Riverwalk, they said Herlihey Park could be their second major project.

They are proposing to use their own expertise, volunteers, and resources from the Eco Action Community grant, the Suzuki Foundation, Watersheds Canada, the Coalition of Haliburton County Property Owners’ Association and U-Links to create information materials, and install a selfguided multi-media tour along Herlihey Park’s proposed trails.

The two said, “it is likely that we would identify biodiversity gaps in the existing plantings, and could propose a plan, plant list, identify contract growers and supplies, and supervise the actual planting of additional plantings.”

They added Dark Lake is a valued trout lake and the research resources of U-Links could be used to make the connection between the township’s initiatives for Herlihey Park and how this will enhance and protect the fresh water resources of the watershed.

They fleshed out the project would identify shoreline, meadow and reforested native plants, shrubs and trees. They would describe how these benefit native pollinators, songbirds, aquatic and other wildlife species, how native plants increase biodiversity, their role in the food web, and how these areas mitigate flooding, extreme weather events, health of the lake, and contribute to the health, safety and well-being of residents.

They added they will have to assess the park, come up with a planting plan, create a web-based, self-guided, walking multimedia tour, signage, and information about the use of, and importance of, the area to the Indigenous people, with an understanding the Curve Lake First Nations were consulted in the planning stage.

Highlands East agreed to a letter of support to present the project to the Eco Action Community Funding Program of the government of Canada.

The master gardeners said the money would be for three years.

“I understand that the first phase of the park will unfold in 2024 with the establishment of trails and parking lots. The timing could be ideal,” Langdon and Camphausen said.