St. Stephen – There is no shortage of suggestions from the public, for the potential use of the former Border Area Community Arena.
Sports clubs in the area have expressed interest in using the space, which is currently being used for the storage of items, such as the remnants of equipment from Bordertown Bowling Alley.
Last fall, members of the St. Stephen Tennis Club made a presentation to council, citing the benefits of the use of a portion of the former arena for indoor courts. The St. Stephen Horseshoe Pitchers Club has also expressed interest in the space, to have indoor horseshoe pits, to use in the winter.
The St. Croix Sportsman Club is also holding out hope for use of the arena, as space in the current location of the Boys and Girls Club of Charlotte County has become cramped.
Suggestions of possible uses were made on a recent Facebook post, on The Saint Croix Courier Facebook page.
“Put a floor in it,” Rob Dougherty commented. “Multipurpose facility. Soccer, rugby, football, baseball, tennis, badminton, lacrosse, cheerleading, pickleball, ball hockey, etc. The possibilities are endless.”
Mary Anne Greenlaw, a coach for the St. Stephen Spartans girls rugby team, suggested the space could be used to put in a turf field.
“I really hope that we can get the town to hear us (turf related)! A multi-use turf would go so far in this town. The sports that you can play on turf are endless! Rugby, football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, badminton, Aussie football, field hockey – just to name a few,” Greenlaw wrote.
“I coach the forwards for the girls rugby team at the high school, and we have been in the provincial championships the last four years in a row. We can never get on a field until the end of April usually.
“This year, it has been so much worse. We actually haven’t even practiced on a full field as of yet! … I can’t stress enough how amazing it would be if we actually had a turf to practice and play on.
“With the lack of fields in the springtime rugby is dying! We could only play one game this season on our fields! We had to travel to play our second home game. If we had a turf it would not be an issue. … We need a good sports field!!!”
Blair Furlotte, who created a co-ed youth ball hockey in the area, (which operated out of the Garcelon Civic Center), was forced to call off this year’s program because the ice floor covering is not designed for sports use. Furlotte commented on the thread, and said the space would be ideal for his program.
“I’ll (sic) love to have room to start up the youth coed ball hockey again.”
Sport uses were not the only suggestions for the former arena.
“A space for dog training, or events, would be awesome too,” Karen Douglas said.
The fate of the 43-year-old arena has yet to be chosen, and Mayor Allan MacEachern has asked residents to be patient regarding the decision of its future use.
He said the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission has recently approved funding for a regional recreational proposal which will “map the entire geographic area, to ascertain the best locations for various recreational pursuits.”
The service commission has applied to the provincial government for additional funding to complete the study.
“We want to know what’s best for this community, and other communities around us,” said MacEachern.
“In St. Stephen we are doing our due diligence before making a decision on the arena. We need to know what other areas are doing before making a decision. We are in consultation with other areas.”
MacEachern said the service commission study will help ascertain the best locations for various recreational pursuits, and would enable communities to avoid the duplication of services. Similar studies are underway in other areas of the province, he said.
The results of the local study will help provide activities for people of all ages and from all walks of life, said MacEachern.
“We can have different activities and are not duplicating those resources within a certain radius. We can better provide a variety of recreational pursuits, with one town providing an activity that another may not.”
He noted all recreational pursuits may not be athletic ones, and communities had to take those into consideration as well.
Council has also looked at plans to relocate the town offices to the building. In November of 2015, council commissioned an engineering firm to conduct a feasibility assessment, at a cost of $11,310 in regards to relocating the offices at town hall to the arena.
The estimate for the cost to repurpose the building to relocate town offices has not been revealed.