A resident’s perspective.
Just read the article in the mercury about the wilson farm.I read about how the heritage advocates in Guelph want to get a bank loan and have the city as a co-signer.
You got to be kidding me…….is this going to be like the soccer dome/sports arena the city co- signed a loan for and the persons running it need the city to bail them out.
If theses heritage advocates are so concerned about the wilson farm why do they not go it alone and purchase the site and leave the city out of it.
And why after all these years of leaving it empty are you and others so concerned about this farm?Why was this not done when it was first donated to the city?I tell you why because
the city had other lofty goals in mind (white elephants)waste recovery plant,new city hall,living wall that is now leaking and turned off, lawsuits,stupid fights the city has and ends up costing us tax payers millions of dollars.
I hope you have your moving boxes ready for after the fall election.
I guess you are not interested in talking about this subject and it shows me that just what i thought you are way out of your league on this one and should stick to running a video
store instead. GF
A resident’s suggestion.
I came out of last evenings meeting on the farmhouse with a sense that this could really work and would like to thank all of you for the time you have put into this effort.
I had one more idea this morning that I had not thought about at the round table discussions that might integrate the farmhouse into the park and neighbourhood.I volunteer with other neighbours taking care of our “community “ice rink (as opposed to backyard rinks) in Riverside park East. I see and hear how this rink has given a “place” for neighbours and the community to meet ,have fun and build community .
I wondered if there is a rink at the park surrounding the farmhouse ?If not it would be a great opportunity to run water and power( for lights) close to the house and possibly on the same new (larger) service connections ?
If this is a possibility and the rink could be reasonably close to the house -the house with its washrooms and porches could have a similar function to the highly successful and popular rink at city hall.The possibity of getting a warm drink and snack in the WINTER makes it even more appealing.? MD
A resident’s suggestion.
Suggestion for the Re-development of the Wilson Farmhouse
This suggestion involves the city retaining ownership of the Wilson Farmhouse and investing city money into integrating the farmhouse into the existing park and making the farmhouse an attractive and functional addition to the park. The Farmhouse would be converted into a monument celebrating the early farming roots of Guelph and would also work as a covered pavilion for outdoor activities. It could provide a washroom for field games and special events. It would require an engineer to provide the information that allows the transformation of the house from derelict condition to functional monument. I’m not an engineer, but believe the costs would be somewhere between the $50,000 cost for demolition and the $500,000 cost estimates for full restoration.
The changes from derelict to monument would involve structural steel and poured concrete to shore up the building’s foundation and provide the base for the steel frame skeleton that replaces the main floor. The main floor walls are stripped away and the second floor is held in place by I beam support pillars and a new steel support under the second floor. The floor of the main floor must be weather proof because it will be exposed to the elements year round and have a year round usage. There could be a washroom on this main floor that could be booked from the city along with the playing field. The “Farming Monument” would become the covered pavilion for the park rendering the present pavilion redundant. This present pavilion could be re-located to another park that doesn’t have a pavilion.
Rationale for making the Wilson Farmhouse into a Monument to Our Agricultural Past
The house currently is derelict, full of mold and sits on a rubble foundation. The interior will have to be stripped to the exterior walls in order for the building to be rendered inhabitable. The foundation, roof, and windows and doors will all have to be replaced if the structure isn’t demolished. Much of the same work will have to be completed to preserve the house as a monument except the mold in the second floor would be sealed up as this floor wouldn’t be used and the walls on the first floor would be removed to be replaced by supporting pillars. These steel pillars could be clad in the reclaimed brick removed from the main floor walls.
The interesting historical features of the house appear to be all located in the second story. There are some window housings on the second floor and some gable work that make the house significant, but nothing on the main floor to my knowledge.
The house has an interesting profile and looks down on all the new sub-division houses around it from its lofty prominence making it a dominating feature of the park. The house is described as an eyesore because it blocks sight lines in the park and the windows are all boarded up so it looks like a derelict. The conversion into a monument maintains the house’s impressive profile and footprint and all the second floor historical features. The roof and floor of the second floor provide the rain and snow shelter for the new all-weather floor at the main level. The basement could be sealed off or might be used for storage. Part of the basement foundation could also be left as is, as an historical demonstration of rubble foundation. Part of a window and two corner walls on the main floor could be retained in the construction of a washroom on the main floor if this is desired for increased function.
The second floor would be left in its current position floating one story above the ground. The ground floor walls would be replaced by weight bearing steel pillars surrounded by the original brick and the second floor would be supported by a steel framed underfloor. The second floor would be sealed off with the mold encapsulated and the whole floor left unavailable to vandalism. The only ground floor features that could be left are the veranda and front door. Some of the rumble foundation would then be left exposed as a ruin. The house site has the only tree shade in the park and these should be retained to help with the shade for the pavilion.
The monument would no longer be the eyesore, but retain the significant historical features, be a tribute to our farming ancestors, possibly become a destination park for people outside the neighbourhood and no longer block sight lines to and through the park.
Uses of this Suburban Park
I live in this area and often walk my dog through the park. The park appears to me to be dramatically underused. There is the derelict house, a children’s play park with climbers and a covered pavilion, and an open field suitable for soccer/quidditch/dog walking. At no time have I seen more than 10 people in the park in the summer, although I have never caught a soccer match. A washroom and parking lot for about 20 cars (Soccer games) would be assets to the park as it transforms from a neighbourhood green space to a destination park. If there are more than 20 cars, street parking could handle it. In the winter, the park is hardly used at all as evidenced by footprints. If the parking lot and access to the pavilion/monument was cleared of snow, I would hope the residents would consider providing and clearing a neighbourhood skating rink and cutting a cross country ski track. I also envision a neighbourhood winter carnival on the site designed by and for the neighbourhood residents. Right now the derelect house appears to be the only draw to the property in winter by the footprint pattern. With the refurbished monument available to provide shelter and a picnic area, the pavilion on the property is redundant and could be re-located to another neighbourhood park in need of a pavilion. The trees and bushes surrounding the monument are a much more amiable and picturesque setting for a picnic shelter.
Why a Coffee Shop/General Store Use for the Wilson House is a Bad Idea
Because of the nature of suburban living, I don’t believe any enterprise in this neighbourhood will ever survive, especially considering the cost of bringing the house up to standard. The local residents all have 1 or more cars, drive everywhere, work elsewhere and don’t walk the streets if snow clearing sidewalks in winter is any indication. There is very little use of the park that would indicate it could support a coffee shop. Groceries barely support the Big Bear grocery mart around the corner on Woodlawn. These residents shop at malls and big box stores and use their cars.
Why a Monument/Pavilion is a Good idea
An attractive monument that retains the impression of the original house could make the park a destination park, and compliment property values. The monument also provides a pavilion for use by the community in summer (picnics and soccer games) and winter (skating rink and winter carnivals). The shade provided by the building and the surrounding trees make it a good walking destination for seniors and students from the school nearby. The city retains ownership of park land and control of the use of that land. The maintenance costs would be minimal even if there is a washroom as it would be rented out with the field and the contract could contain clean-up provisions. There would be considerable up-front costs to the city, but future maintenance would be minimal.
The Illustrations Accompanying this Proposal
The two illustrations show a front street view along with a north facing side view and a view from the south showing some of the back walls. They also include a washroom, but this is optional. There would have to be some railings if parts of the foundation/basement are left exposed. There are many options that could make the project more expensive.
Thank for any consideration you have given to this project and it is my hope that whatever happens to the Wilson House, the various constituencies, historical, neighbourhood residents and Guelph tax payers feel well served by your decision. TP
Just received a note from the good folks who look after the skating rink in Riverside Park. Ice rink is in great shape and is expected to be open all of March Break. Come on down and have fun they say.
What a great neighbourhood. ian
Following on to the earlier e-mail update, I would like to update you on the progress of the limited ice grading operation the Public Works Department is conducting in the residential neighbourhood streets. We continue to address complaints from residents about ice ridges on their streets as a result of the freeze-up we experienced over a week ago.
Below is a list of the streets we have identified needing treatment. All the streets have been treated less the streets that are highlighted in blue. These streets are being scheduled for Sat and Sun this weekend.
We will continue to add streets to this list on a case-by-case basis; however, we are planning to conclude this operation early next week.