Rembrandt Ave.

Rembrandt Park is a magnificent facility we can all be very proud of

As the city councillor for District 2 these past 17 years, I am very proud of the work that has been done to enhance Rembrandt Park.

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The new basketball courts.

When I was first elected, the park had a sunken field that was used by delinquents to hide out late at night and even dump benches. We were able to level that field, much to the benefit of users. A skateboard bowl, deemed dangerous by many parents and confirmed by senior staff, was removed. The splashpad project was installed well over a decade ago and is a popular attraction. Park equipment has been consistently upgraded and  last year we finally installed a brand new basketball court, as well as a half court for youngsters. In addition, we purchased large nets so youngsters could play soccer. I have received nothing but warm thanks for the youngsters who use these  facilities.

As for the tennis courts, they have been refurbished over the years and benefited from new lighting. A permanent ping pong table, installed in 2021, has been a big hit from the start. In the winter, for two years in a row now, we have but in an ice skating rink at one of the tennis courts. There is also a popular toboggan hill.

This is an extremely well utilized park, a hub of activity and a wonderful mix of young families and seniors who live in the immediate area. I am not pleased to see people having picnics and not cleaning up after themselves. It lends the impression that the park is dirty.  That is not the case. We have ample trash cans. On weekends in particular we have a small crew of staff circulating throughout the city so they cannot possibly visit each park for cleanup.

I walk through this park regularly from the spring to the fall, constantly interacting with users and the park attendants who oversee activities. When people have concerns, they direct them my way.  That is the best process to follow.  Last summer, for instance, a woman called to advise me that she was pushing her husband in his wheelchair to the park, but the pathway was not smooth enough to  get there. In a matter of days I had a crew from Public Works present to pour more cement and create an easier entry.

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The water splashpad area.

Understandably, residents who use a particular park a lot tend to have large wish lists. We do everything we can to comply, however it is very important to emphasize that the city has dozens of parks to take care of. There is only so much funding available. That being said, Rembrandt Park is indeed on a list prepared by our Public Works Department for changes to the playground areas.  This will not occur overnight, as it is a costly endeavor. As well,  because the playgrounds are divided into sections for young and older children, a complete redesign will be required.

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Park attendant Ruby Goodman showcases the new water fountains.

 

In the meantime, we continue to roll out new initiatives:

  •  The chalet roof has been redone in aluminum, a sustainable material that can last up to 50 years and added      handicapped/stroller accessible washrooms.
  •  Three new lamp posts were added at the Merrimac side of the park.
  •  Eleven new benches were installed in  concrete bases along the pathway near the playground and chalet.
  •  We replaced and added four extra large garbage bins.
  •  Two new drinking fountains have now been installed ( water bottle accessible).
  •  We removed dead and sick trees and planted new ones.   
  •  We replaced the single doors at the tennis courts with double doors.
  •  The chalet art room is being renovated, including a custom made (by our employees) stainless steel double sink.
PingPong
This ping pong table is very popular.

 

Some residents have called,  concerned that picnic tables have disappeared.  That is not the case. Tables tend to be moved manually by users to different parts of the park for their own little gatherings.  While we have ordered metal picnic tables, they are on back order so unfortunately we have no other choice but to wait.

I can always be reached at mcohen@cotesaintluc.org.


Handicapped accessible washrooms being installed at Rembrandt Park Chalet

Renovations  are underway at the  Rembrandt Park Chalet’s washrooms.

Our Public Works team are gutting them completely and installing new  floors ceilings, toilets, and more. We are changing both the men's and women's bathrooms to become  wheelchair accessible. One stall in each will be dedicated to this. Also a ramp will be installed at the front entrance.1

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The Rembrandt Chalet.

 

I want to thank Public Works Director Beatrice Newman and her staff for being able to complete this work in-house, saving the city thousands of dollars.

While the work is being carried out,   we ordered a portable bathroom for a minimum of several weeks until everything is  completed. 

Rembrandt Park has become a true hub of activity over the years, with people of all ages spending time there.  Seniors with mobility issues will really appreciate this initiative.


Safety measures taken at Rembrandt Park Toboggan Hill

It has been a cold winter thus far, but parents with young children have been enjoying the Rembrandt Park Toboggan Hill. However, I did receive some complaints about safety concerns with some trees located in dangerous spot.

I asked members of our Public Works team to go an assess the area. They agreed that this is a great toboggan hill requiring little maintenance.

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The Toboggan Hill.

What we have now done for this winter is secure the area (from kids ending up on the street ) with a snow fence along the sidewalk on Rembrandt. Also, we wrapped the two trees closest to the hill with an orange snow fence too. This way the trees now stick out and there’s still plenty of room for many toboggans to run.

Our team will go back to the park during the summer to assess the area again with our tree experts at which point I will be able to provide an update.

With the increasing number of families and children in District 2, Public Works has agreed to provide an official second toboggan hill at Rembrandt Park down the line.


Official ribbon cutting ceremony for new Rembrandt Park basketball courts is Sunday, October 10

In the company of Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, members of city council and staff, I  will be proud to preside overt the formal launch of the refurbished Rembrandt Park basketball courts on Sunday, October 10 at 10 am. Please join us for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Families are invited to come try out the two surfaces – a competitive court and a half court for younger children- and explore Rembrandt Park. This is a beautiful and popular facility, which , also features two tennis courts, a soccer field, a playground, a permanent ping pong table,  a water spray area, a chalet for art classes, an area for Israeli dancing in the summer, various hills and numerous picnic tables and benches.

Some youngsters enjoy the new main court.

 

Visitors are encouraged to come try out the courts for themselves and witness the mayor, members of city council and staff try and dunk some baskets themselves.

 

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This is what the main court looked like before the facelift.

 

The existing court was in poor condition and in dire need of repairs. Among the selected new equipment are the basketball poles, backboards, front mounted rims basketball nets and players benches. Crews removed the existing cracked asphalt and installed six inches of MG-20 crushed stone to maintain a slop of one percent for better drainage. There was new asphalt installed, as well as two coats of colourful epoxy paint acrylic surface, a new 30-foot light projector with two LED fixtures and new grass (SOD) around the perimeter of the basketball court. Both the refurbished courts and the half court have been hugely popular since work was completed in August.

In the event of heavy rain, the formal launch will take place on Sunday, October 17 at 10 am.


Much used pathway has been repaved

When  I started my re-election campaign last summer, a number of people who regularly use the pathway from the end of Rembrandt Avenue to Cavendish Boulevard asked if it could be repaved.

I met with Gordon Aizer and Chris Wild from the Villas Merrimac Condominium Association in August and we took a proper walk through. There were a number of potholes. Rembrandt Avenue resident Meyer Freed also called, concerned about the water buildup in those sections when it rained.

 

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Chris Wild and I check out the repaved pathway.

 

I consulted with our Public Works Department. Given the fact this is late in the season,  they promised to look at some patch up work. I stressed the importance of making this as walkable as possible and they found a way to repave virtually the entire strip. Thanks to Operations Head John Monteiro and his entire team!

 

 


The new basketball courts at Rembrandt Park are now in operation

I am thrilled and proud to announce that the brand new refurbished basketball courts at Rembrandt Park are now open for business.

I was at the park today when the crew did all the final touches. The surface for the main court was completely redone. It was a safety hazard in the past. The blue, red  and white painted surface has been well received. So have  the benches. All we needed was the poles and the basketball nets. The first youngsters to shoot some hoops were  Raphael Shahraobani, Daniel Ohayon and Nathan Ohana.


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Raphael, Daniel and Nathan get set to give the new courts a whirl.

 

And now for something completely new. Over the past few months Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and I worked closely with local basketball experts - Alex Fyon and Kevin Fuks from JHoops, Matt Starr from JPPS-Bialik and one of my youth advisors, Shai Troy. Now 18, Shai has been playing on these courts for year. Alex and Kevin felt very strongly that a smaller half court was necessary for the younger children. We have delivered that too. Another one of my constituents, Yane Arama and his son, Nathaniel 6,  headed to the half court. Nathaniel sunk a basket on his third try. The hoop is lower and this half court will be reserved for kids 12 and under.

 

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Nathaniel initiates the kids half court.

I want to give a huge thanks to Dalia Mohamed, the engineer on this project. She worked tirelessly for the past year and when the half court proposal came to her at the eleventh hour she made it happen. Also to Parks and Recreation Director Cornelia Ziga and veteran manager Ryan Nemeroff, who played  an equally crucial role. Anthony Sulpizio, the newest member of the P & R staff, has been involved in recent weeks. As well, hats off to our always accommodating  Public Works Department provided great assistance as  well.


We had to wait a little longer than expected due to certain equipment being on back order. But it is still early August and plenty of months ahead to enjoy the courts. New lighting for the courts is also on the way,

I am hoping to organize something more formal to launch the refurbished courts, a project years in the making.

 

 


One more step to go for new basketball courts

We are hoping that this week the postsand baskets will be installed at Rembrandt Park for the main and new half court.

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The revamped main court, minus the posts.

 

The renovation of the  court and the construction of the half court began on June 11 and the final project was expected to be completed in seven weeks (July 26). The asphalt was laid on June 21 and needed to cure for 28 days before painting the surface. We have kept construction fences up to protect the asphalt from any damage caused by children to prevent the epoxy paint from sticking.

Half Court
The surface of the new half court.

 

The painting of the two courts was done last week and I think we can all agree it looks beautiful.  Due to manufacturing delays,   we have been on hold for the basketball posts. It has been frustrating but the final product will be worth the wait I hope. Last season the weather allowed basketball to be played right through mid-November.

New lighting will be installed as well.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 


Another effort to make Rembrandt Park more handicapped accessible

Just a couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a constituent on Rembrandt Avenue. Her husband is an amputee in a wheelchair. She told me that there is a problem leading into  park as the unipave bricks are not even and they had a difficulty getting from the sidewalk into the park and leaving.
 
Rembrandtbefore
Before...
Compounding issues, the wife just had hip surgery so she is using a walker so managing the bumpy bricks was beyond problematic.  She asked if our  Public Works team could smooth out the bricks. "Because of the wheelchair we can't use our balcony, so going to the park is our outing for fresh air," she said.
 
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...and after.


I want to thank our Public Works team for immediately assessing the situation. It was determined that the problematic path be adjusted with new asphalt as there would be too many bricks to replace. Today they completed the work. Bravo!

Tenders adopted and it is now a go for Rembrandt Park basketball court facelift

It is hard to believe that just more than a decade ago when I would take my regular walks through Rembrandt Park, I’d often hear comments to the effect that the basketball courts should be removed. This came mainly from seniors and even some residents of Merrimac.

Well, in recent years the number of young families living in the immediate vicinity has grown substantially and these basketball courts have gained popularity. The problem is they are in dire need for a facelift and that is what I advocated at the Council table. Parks and Recreation, Engineering and Public Works heard my cry and a renovation job was placed into our Capital Expenditures budget four years ago. There are a lot of requests and we must wait our turn.

Users of all ages kept asking me, “when will these courts be fixed?”  I promised it would be done by 2021 and last November we got the green light to go to tender. Engineer Dalia Mohamed, Parks and Recreation Director  Cornelia Ziga and our Legal Counsel for Procurement Andrea Charon worked exceedingly hard on this project. The original budget was $70,000 and after receiving several informal equipment quotes, Dalia asked Cornelia to present a business case to  our  Finance Department, which was approved  for an extra $15,000.

I have been fortunate to be able to count on some solid advice from constituents Alex Fyon and Kevin Fuks. Their  JHoops organization runs leagues, after school programs, summer camps and more. Kevin has been playing basketball at Rembrandt for more than 20 years. They are very invested in these courts. They will join other regulars like 18 year old Shai Troy, whom I first met when he was two,  to form the first ever Rembrandt Park Basketball Advisory Committee. 

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Shai Troy and Daniel Ohayon are among those excited to see this court get a much needed facelift.

 

Next week, along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein,  we will meet with Dalia and Cornelia to get an overview of the project. While elaborate changes are not likely given the fact the budget has already been stretched to the limit we will explore the possibility of building a mini-companion court for younger kids. JHoops is open to a possible sponsorship.

Plain and simply, the existing  court is in very poor condition and is at the end of its

lifespan.  Among the selected new equipment will be the basketball poles, backboards, front mounted  rims basketball nets and players benches.

  • Removing the existing cracked asphalt and install six inches of MG-20 crushed stone to

maintain a slop of one percent for better drainage;

  • Install  new asphalt;
  • Install two coats of epoxy paint acrylic surface;
  • Install new basketball sets, including the two new poles and two steel fan-shaped basketball boards with double rim basketball goals;
  • Install a new 30-foot light projector with two LED fixtures;
  • Install two players' benches with backs;
  • Install new grass (SOD) around the perimeter of the basketball court.

The work is scheduled to start in June 2021 and to be completed  by the end of July. We had nine conforming bids

I will have more to report when Mayor Brownstein and members of the Advisory Committee meet with our staff next week.

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