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June 2008

New Baby Swings Installed at Rembrandt Park

A new set of baby swings have been installed at Rembrandt Park in Côte Saint-Luc. What makes this unique, he notes, is the fact they were paid for by an anonymous donor.

The swings, in fact, are dedicated in memory of the children who perished at the Mauthausen-Gusen Nazi concentration camp in Austria. This is a perfect example of how the city’s new sponsorship program, which he unveiled last fall, can work to the benefit of the community at large.

In this particular case the cost was about $2,000. After we announced our new sponsorship guidelines, a constituent asked me whether we could put new baby swings in the park. I told him it was not presently in the budget, but told him about the sponsorship option. His parents are Holocaust survivors as are a number of residents of Rembrandt Avenue. He generously provided the financing, but wishes to remain anonymous. I really do hope others follow his example in the future.


Proposed Strip Mall on Marc Chagall

There has been a lot of concern expressed recently by residents of Marc Chagall Avenue over the proposed strip mall across the street from the snow dump and right next door to the Bellagio Condominium and across the street from the Marquise. Let me remind everyone that we had a beautiful town house proposal for the land last fall. I called a District meeting at City Hall, following which residents of the Bellagio, the Marquise and the Rotschild all expressed their support for the project - knowing full well that if it were to be rejected a strip mall could go up there since that is what the property is legally zoned for. We never did bring this to a vote though, since a majority of councillors indicated they would not support it. They cited the proximity of Hydro tension wires. I did not buy this argument. Mayor Anthony Housefather has supported the town house project all along. Ditto for two other councillors. We needed four votes in order for the mayor to break a tie. Sadly, one councillor who supported the project from the start and stood up in front of 60 people at my District meeting in December and said so changed his mind for no acceptable reason. I do not want a strip mall on Marc Chagall, nor do the residents. I am hopeful that at least one councillor will change their vote, allowing us to bring the town houses back online. Afterall, whether it is a residential or comercial project - the Hydro wires will still be there.

Bialik Newsletter Highlights Traffic

The following appeared in the latest JPPS-Bialik Newsletter:

JPPS-Bialik Gets Political—Municipally Speaking

JPPS-Bialik was prominently featured at Councillor Mike Cohen’s bi-annual District 2 meeting on the evening of June 2. The affairs of JPPS-Bialik have consistently been quite high on Councillor Cohen’s list of priorities throughout his tenure. He is a major supporter of the ongoing Bialik Expansion Project and is deeply committed to improving the traffic safety situation around the school.

Councillor Cohen and the JPPS-Bialik administration have worked hand-in-hand in trying to alleviate some of these problems by setting up a student traffic committee with close police consultation. A new crossing guard program along with several new traffic safety measures are being considered for the next school year.

Councillor Cohen made sure to express his appreciation to the officers of Station 9 (two of whom were in attendance) for their work in helping to control the parking and traffic violations that seem to plague the immediate area. Be warned: the police expressed their desire to continue “surprise visits” from time to time.

Finally, while the majority of the District 2 community is extremely supportive of JPPS-Bialik’s recent changes, we must remember at all times (but especially during the rush periods) that Bialik High School is located in a densely populated area. While it is understandable that your goal as parents is to make sure that your children are dropped off and picked up as quickly as possible, please do not forget about the people living in neighbourhood. While driving on Kildare, should you notice a car trying to turn onto Kildare from Rembrandt, do let them in and remember that they may also be running late for work. A little common courtesy will pave the way for a harmonious relationship with Bialik High School’s neighbours.

David Smajovits '00


District 2 Meeting Summary -June 2, 08

The following is a summary of my District meeting. DISTRICT 2 COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2008 Côte Saint-Luc City Hall Council Chamber 1. Introduction

More than 30 residents were in attendance. Councillor Mike Cohen chaired the meeting. He was joined by Director of Public Works David Tordjman. Officers Michel Simone and Genevieve Latour of Police Station 9 were on hand as observers, as was JPPS-Bialik communications officer David Smajovits. Councillor Cohen explained that he holds these meetings at least twice a year to provide constituents of District 2 with detailed updates on issues which affect them most. He urged residents to check his blog at http://www.mikecohen.ca/ where local updates are posted frequently, to call 514-485-6945 whenever they have a concern or email mcohen@cotesaintluc.org.

2. Bialik Expansion
Councillor Cohen introduced David Smajovits, the newly appointed communications officer at JPPS-Bialik. Last summer Bialik High School, located on Kildare Road near Marc Chagall, added a new fourth floor, a state-of-the-art science lab, a renovated and expanded cafeteria, student lounge and a new double-art room. Now phase two of their expansion is underway. This $3 million investment will add a much-needed second gymnasium, including a new state-of-the-art stage facility and a renovated Mettarlin Hall, anticipated to be completed by the spring of 2009. Councillor Cohen expressed his appreciation to Police Station 9 for their work in handing out tickets in the area of Bialik where parking infractions have been consistent. The school has also played a role, setting up a student traffic committee in conjunction with Councillor Cohen. Next fall, a new crossing guard program will begin and several traffic safety measures are being considered such as a new crosswalk.

3. Rembrandt Park
Councillor Cohen stated that from the time he began campaigning more than two and a half years ago, residents expressed many concerns about Rembrandt Park. The soccer pit was not being used very often. Instead, delinquents were throwing park benches down the trench and using the area as a hideout when creating mischief such as throwing rocks at cars. Last year the pit was filled and grassed over. It is now a much more attractive area and no longer accessible as a hideout. This summer a new water play area will be installed. This attractive facility will be geared towards younger children, with water jet spray jumping from one part to the other. In the summer of 2009 plans call for the basketball courts to be taken down and replaced with additional tennis courts. Councillor Cohen said that residents have complained for years about the courts attracting non-residents, whom in many cases proved intimidating. Residents often did not feel comfortable walking in the park. Ruby Goodman, a resident of Rembrandt and an attendant at the park, says there has been some vandalism lately. He also said that drugs have been found in the park. He called for a stronger police presence. Tony Robinson suggested that poles be installed with security cameras. Sam Rappaport said that he awoke one night recently to some loud noise coming from the park. Ernest Burman said that the city needs to come up with a comprehensive security plan for all parks. Officer Simone said that if anyone sees someone breaking the law they should call 9-1-1 immediately. Station 9 just happens to be just around the corner from the park. Tina Chitayat asked whether soccer nets will be installed on the grass area where the pit once stood. Mr. Tordjman said that will be determined after a decision is made where to put the additional tennis courts since at least one will probably go in that section. There was also a request for new flags to be installed near the park chalet. Finally, new baby swings have been installed. An anonymous donor paid the $2,000 for the equipment. A plaque will be put up, dedicated to the children who perished during the Holocaust.

4. Traffic and Parking

There were a lot of suggestions and concerns raised about traffic and parking.
While the flower pots on Marc Chagall Ave. have slowed traffic down, it was noted that one located just outside Le Marquise is too close to the garage and needs to be moved just abit. Speed calming measures, such as speed bumps or humps, were suggested for where Merrimac Road meets Rembrandt. Dr. Paul Weinstein wanted to know why the police were pulling aside so many cars on Cavendish near Kildare, going north. Officer Simone said speeders are being caught going upwards of 100 km per hour. Councillor Cohen asked the police to keep a close eye on the stop sign at the corner of Kildare and Merrimac going west. Cars repeatedly go through the stop sign at all hours of the day and night.
Mayer Schondorf complained about gardeners leaving messy grass on Rembrandt. Mr. Tordjman said that gardeners will soon have to be licensed to operate in Côte Saint-Luc which will make it easier for the city to ticket them for such infractions. Mr. Schondorf also questioned the two hour no parking restriction on Rembrandt for street cleaning. He said that he never sees the sweeper go by. It was mentioned that there are a lot of jaywalkers on the turnaround leading to Cavendish from Heywood. Mr. Tordjman pointed out how that area was already adjusted to include a new crosswalk a few years ago. He is now studying the possibility of installing a rail fence to block jaywalkers. The police on hand were urged to ticket such jaywalking offences. Sam Lifshitz complained that there are too many sections of the street on Merrimac where parking is prohibited. That will be looked into. Regarding the Cavendish-Kildare intersection, some people complain that the light is not long enough (pedestrians). Others feel that the light is too long (motorists). The city has made every effort to come up with something that everyone can live with. Mr. Robinson asked the police to start giving tickets to cars that do not signal.

There were also a lot of questions about the proposed change to the Cavendish/Fleet intersection. The plan calls for a second left-turn-only lane on Cavendish Blvd. southbound. Both lanes will turn onto Fleet Rd. An engineering traffic study indicates that this will reduce wait times and line-ups of vehicles turning onto Fleet Rd. It will also and lessen the number of vehicles that use Baily Rd. as a shortcut to Fleet Rd.

5. Snow Dump
Residents wanted to know what is being done to try and bring down the size of the snow dump. They complained that it is dirty and expressed concern that the hill will still be there in the fall. Councillor Cohen said that special machinery was rented in April to improve the situation and more may be required. Dr. Weinstein suggested that trees, which some day can grow very high, be planted so that years from now the size of the dump could be hidden in the spring months.

6. The Marc Chagall Shed
While the shed which formerly housed the model home for Le Chagall (the condo that was never built) was demolished in April, residents are concerned with the mess the developers left on the land. Mr. Tordjman explained that the owners of the land have been sent letters of warning and fined. The city will now clean up the area and charge the owners for the work. By-laws presently state that vacant land only needs to be maintained, not beautified. Should we bring in a by-law to force these owners to grass over such areas?

7. Marc Chagall Town Houses
At the last District 2 meeting a proposed plan for a 21 unit town house development was presented. It would have been constructed on Marc Chagall, across from the snow dump. A zoning change was required since the land is zoned for a strip mall. Councillor Cohen consulted residents who were in favor of the project – especially opposed to a strip mall. However, the majority of council were against this, citing the proximity of Hydro wires. Councillor Cohen argued against this, but it was clear a vote would not pass. The developer has threatened to construct a strip mall. But to this point nothing has been submitted.

8. Beth Chabad
Construction on the new synagogue/community centre on Marc Chagall continues. The frame is now up and the walls will be installed soon. Beth Chabad still hopes to be operational there by the high holidays.

9. Cavendish Mall
There is no update regarding the demolition of Cavendish Mall and the construction of a large housing development. Negotiations between the city and the Mall continue. Councillor Cohen said that the city has to be very careful not to accept a project whereby traffic would become prohibitive.