Rafi Zeira (right), a District 2 resident, was introduced. As people entered the room they heard Rafi’s Accordion, a new CD he has just released with his wife Fay and their collaborators Michel Tordjman and Larry Hughes. All four were on hand to showcase the Jewish medley, which took a year and a half to produce. I also introduced special guests Councillor Steven Erdelyi, responsible for public works and the environment; Beatrice Newman, manager of customer service and administration; Charles Senekal; manager of engineering; Mohammed Ali, project manager in the engineering division and a CSL resident; Harold Cammy, manager of sports and facilities for Parks and Recreation. I explained that these meetings have been held once or twice annually since I was elected. Everyone was reminded that they can always call me at City Hall or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. New Town Houses
Gerald Issenman (pictured below) was introduced as the developer of new townhouses on Marc Chagall Avenue. He is reviving the 21 unit complex which Jerome Winikoff had previously attempted to build. The same architects have been retained from the original project. Landscaping has been upgraded. If all goes well he hopes to starts building sometime in July, with units ready for occupation in December. Mr. Issenman owns the Côte Saint-Luc Building Corporation. Among his properties are the Bonaventure Arena, apartments on MacDonald Avenue and many more. Units will cost about $425,000 for an interior and $435,000 for an exterior.
3. Digital Signage
I expressed my appreciation for the Kazoo Digital signage we have up at the corner of Cavendish and Kildare. CSL gets a certain amount of promotional space and Kazoo sells the rest. It is working out nicely and Kazoo might add one or two more digital signs elsewhere in the city.
4. Rembrandt Park/Tennis Courts
Last year Harold Cammy was at the District 2 meeting, at which time he unveiled plans for us to build three new tennis courts at Rembrandt Park. There was a lot of opposition to this move and we took the time to consult. First and foremost, people were worrying about a lack of parking spots in the immediate area. In the meantime, all park renovations in the city were put on hold as we focused our financial objectives on the new $18 million Aquatic and Community Centre (ACC), two thirds of which will be paid for by the provincial and federal governments. In the meantime the city began negotiating a new lease with the English Montreal School Board for the five courts on the premises of the former Wagar High School. An agreement was reached and for the summer of 2012 those courts will be completely revamped. Mr. Cammy explained this will be far more cost efficient than constructing new ones at Rembrandt. There have been discussions at the council table, inspired by new city manager Tanya Abramovitch, to create a “cultural park” with picnic tables and space for performing arts. Over the years a lot of money has already been poured into this park. Mr. Cammy called on residents to send their ideas for what they would like to see the park used for to Councillor Cohen.
Comments and Suggestions
-There were suggestions that more benches be added. While this will be looked into, benches are costly. The option of sponsoring a bench on behalf of a loved one was raised. (The following day Beatrice Newman reported to me that some new benches had been delivered and installed.)
-Replace the sand near the swing areas with bark chips or recycled rubber. Councillor Erdelyi cautioned there may be health hazards with those options.
-Replace the old skateboard pit with a picnic table area.
-Fix the wet patchy spots in the area where the soccer pit once sat.
-Close up the cement garbage containers next to the benches
-Install a speed bump at Merrimac and Rembrandt where cars are making quick turns. (Manager Senekal said that if such a suggestion or complaint comes in writing it will be looked at by the Transportation Committee.)
-For the “No Dogs Allowed” sign adjust it to include the cost of a fine if you are caught as people continually ignore this rule.
-Introduce outdoor exercise equipment at parks (Councillor Erdelyi indicated that will in fact be occurring soon at a number of spots.)
-Bring back the rosebushes to Rembrandt Park (The following day Beatrice Newman confirmed that the bushes disappeared because they were dying and diseased. An order has been placed to plant new ones.)
5. Traffic Matters (Kildare and Cavendish)
I indicated that many of my calls are about this corner and there is no simple solution. I lauded Charles and Mohammed for how responsive they are in general to citizens, particularly in regard to Kildare and Cavendish. A lot of time and money has been devoted to this corner over the years. It is not an easy fix. Mr. Senekal explained that attention is now being devoted to the reconfiguration of Cavendish Boulevard and the new road (The Avenue) which will lead to the Mall housing development. Once that is in place phase two will involve some significant proposals vis-à-vis Cavendish and Kildare. Mr. Senekal and Mr. Ali have developed some impressive options to really improve the situation. People will have to be patient as this must be discussed at the council table first. There were many suggestions of how to fix the situation, including Shirley Rosen (below) who has been on top of this situation for a long time. A common complaint was that Police Station 9 should be giving out more tickets to cars which are repeatedly not waiting for a green arrow to turn left on Cavendish coming from Kildare. There was a request for me to address this concern to the local police commander. I then took the opportunity to announce that I wish to invite all residents of District 2 to submit their own ideas as to how to fix the problem.
There was a suggestion that we put cameras mounted at the corner of Kildare and Cavendish to help give out more tickets.
On a related issue, one resident of Marc Chagall suggests that the traffic pots – meant to slow down speeders – be painted yellow so they are easier to see.
6. Public Works
A main topic of discussion here was the height of snow dump on Marc Chagall Avenue. Dr. Paul Weinstein, who resides at Le Marquise next door, said that he is less concerned about the aesthetics than the amount of garbage there which he fears can spread disease. He also said that the state of the dump is leading to increased pigeon droppings on balconies. Across the street from Le Marquise, on part of the land where the new town houses will be built, he noted that proper grass cutting was not done and as a result white dandelions are growing. Beatrice Newman explained that someone from Public Works mistakenly thought that area was private property and this is why it was not attended to immediately. Dr. Weinstein also repeated a request he had about the planting of trees inside or directly outside of the fence of the dump. He reasons that eventually these trees might grow high enough to block the snow hill. We spoke to our horticulturalist, René Lapointe, who said that trees were in fact planted where he asked a number of years ago but they will never grow high enough to cover the hill. Furthermore, we did look into planting more but there simply is not any more sufficient fertile land to do so.
Dr. Harry Shizgal and other asked whether we could try to bring in equipment to cut down the size of the hill. I have asked for this to be done, but as Councillor Erdelyi interjected the estimated cost to do so is somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. For budgetary reasons, he explained, the city will likely wait until the snow melts. Dr. Weinstein asked that we investigate any alternative options which perhaps were not looked at in the past such as covering the hill with something to make it melt quicker.
7. Cavendish Mall
Many people have been asking when construction will begin on the new housing development at the Cavendish Mall. Charles Senekal said that the first thing which needs to be done is the demolition of the pavement. Work will then begin for the infrastructure for the various streets. If all goes well, that phase could be completed by early fall.
8. Beth Chabad
I communicated with Rabbi Mendel Raskin of Beth Chabad last week. He can only say at this point that he hopes to see some progress on the first phase of the project soon, which would allow them to relocate from their temporary trailers and the space they rent at Bialik into their new home.
Mohammed and Charles chat with Aubrey Zelman, president of the Meadows Condominium Association and the owner of Gourmetchip.com.