Optimist Club ‘ along’ with fundraising for recreational facility

Puslinch Optimist Club president Ken Williams says the club has almost reached the halfway mark in its goal to raise $380,000 for the township’s new multi-use recreational facility.

“It’s moving along,” Willi­ams told council on Sept 2, adding the club has raised about $175,000 to date. “We are very confident we will make our commitment and make it on time.”

Though he specifically mentioned two donations – one for $50,000 from Nestlé Waters Canada and another from  Puslinch Threshing Bees for $17,000 – Williams said the club has received “very positive” feedback from local residents and businesses alike.

“We’ve had a great response from the whole community,” he said. Williams also thanked Capital Paving Inc. for its help in hosting the recent Farm to Fork fundraiser, which featured locally grown food donated by farmers and prepared by local culinary talents, as well as refreshments from local wineries and micro breweries and entertainment by a variety of local musicians.

“It was a real good mark for us and the entire community,” he said of the Aug. 30 event.

The Optimist Club has also been selling $500 dedication bricks for the new building at the Puslinch community centre on Brock Road (County Road 46), and that idea has also been a success thus far. The club hopes to have a webpage  recognizing the donors up and running by the end of this week  and is planning a door-to-door drive in the winter for the bricks.

“The whole program is gaining momentum,” he said.

Next the club will continue with its ongoing corporate donation drive and is also planning a New Year’s Eve dance, another Farm to Fork event in 2010, and a celebrity golf tournament next year.

Councillors seemed im­press­ed with the efforts of the club so far and congratulated Williams on its accomplishments to date.

In addition to providing a fundraising update, Williams also presented council with an explanation on the recreational facility itself.

Williams said a preliminary design from Gamsby and Man­nerow – on display at the township’s July 1 celebration, as well as the local threshing bee and the Farm to Fork event – “is going to change.”

He said if at all possible, the club does not want to increase the size of the building – around 14,000 square feet – but a foyer must be added and the club also wants to change the location of the Zamboni, among other things. He added the club wants to make the best possible use of the $2.1-million available, two thirds of which will be funded through the federal and provincial Building Can­ada Fund (BCF) grant an­nounced earlier this year.

Officials expect the front portion of the facility, which will house a gymnasium, to cost about $200 per square foot, while the ice rink surface itself will cost about $100 per square foot.

When it was suggested perhaps the facility could be built for less than $2.1-million, Williams replied that is unlikely. He admitted the building could possibly be built for $1.6- to $1.8-million, but then the township could spend an­other $500,000 over the next few years to add everything it wants.

“The idea is not just to spend the governments’ money, but to get the best bang for the buck for the community,” he said.

Councillor Matthew Bul­mer said he is pleased with the basic plan and “glad to see there are some changes proposed.” He suggested monthly updates for council would be a good idea. Bulmer also noted a Zamboni is likely not covered under the BCF grant, and asked what one would cost.

Williams said the cost can range from $10,000 for a basic “push cart” model, up to $30,000 for a good full-sized Zamboni. He suggested a used, full size model would be the way to go and noted the Optimist Club has applied to Hydro One for funding for the Zamboni.

Councillor Don McKay suggested a public meeting be held once plans for the facility are more concrete, perhaps in conjunction with a meeting for proposed library up­grades.