A resident’s comments.
I have been a Friend of the Wilson Park Farmhouse through the neighbourhood group now for just over a year when we moved to Guelph in April 2012. I have been involved and hopeful to find some resolution to the concern of the Farmhouse building since that time. My family and two young children enjoy this park and other local parks and trails in our neighbourhood.
I appreciated that the informal neighbourhood surveys were distributed to gather input from our immediate community regarding their desires for this parkland. 134 surveys were returned out of 240 distributed and 98% of those responding indicated a desire to keep Wilson Park whole and did not wish to sever and sell the Farmhouse portion. I am disappointed that the City of Guelph did not consult with the citizens of Guelph to find resolution to this concern even though they had at one point indicated they would do a survey. I do not support severing and selling the property for a few reasons. The initial plan for this land supported keeping it whole for all to enjoy. There are many beautiful trees on this land and if the Farmhouse is severed and sold, there are limited means to control what the buyer will do with the property or the trees.
If I were the Wilson family who left the property to the citizens and City of Guelph I would be quite unimpressed with the decayed state of the home as it stands from over 12 years of neglect. From the information provided from the assessor through Northwood Heights neighbourhood group, it appears to me that the neglect of the Farmhouse has decayed the heritage elements of the home and there is little to preserve. I would support demolition of the home, as endorsed by the City assessment addressed in the council meeting September 16, preservation of whatever heritage elements are remaining and a plaque commemorating the Wilson Farmstead. Based on assessments previously stated by other delegates, the home would cost in excess of $500,000 to repair to ensure the home is not further decaying and I would not want to pay (through taxes) that cost for a home that is not contributing in any active way (or much in the way of heritage) to the community.
It is important to me that we protect parkland as an asset in our City. With continued urban sprawl, the City of Guelph needs to ensure we maintain our desires to live amongst easily accessible green spaces. The proximity to green areas is part of the reason why our family chose to live in the Northwood Heights region of Guelph. I appreciate and am taking part in the upcoming Adopt-A-Tree program through the City. The Wilson Farmhouse property has many beautiful mature walnut trees that should be protected and enjoyed by all.
I believe the most cost-effective and respectful method of honouring the Wilson Farmstead would be to preserve any heritage elements that may still be remaining after decay, create a plaque or miniature scale model of the home, and incorporate the Farmhouse area within the park.
I intend to be at the September 30th Council meeting in the hopes that Council will support demolition of the farmhouse and preservation of any heritage elements while honouring the Wilson Farmhouse with a plaque or something of the like and incorporate the space in the park. AD