Bear Line Park plans progressing

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Officials gathered in March in this Chatham Voice file photo to symbolically break ground on a new park on Bear Line.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Local residents will soon see the new Bear Line Regional Park taking shape.

At a meeting, Chatham-Kent council approved a $2.9-million tender to Gillier Construction Inc. to undertake the first phase of the park’s development.

According to a report from administration, the work by Gillier will see underground services installed in preparation for the park’s next phase, which is to include the construction of the tennis dome.

Sanitary and storm sewer access will also be installed, as well as hydro, gas and water servicing. Two access points to the park will also be built, along with a 204-car asphalt parking lot with lighting.

The work is set to begin this spring. A total of $2 million from the Hydro One Community Benefit Fund will be utilized along with $1.5-million from the municipality’s capital budget.

C-K has committed an additional $3.5 million to support the park development over the next couple of years.

The project was born when tennis aficionados Mark and Stephanie Chapados approached the municipality with the idea of building a year-round indoor tennis dome. The couple has spearheaded fundraising for the project, raising $200,000.

In 2022, council lent its support, matching the donation.

Subsequently in May 2023, council approved the donation of a 19.5-acre parcel of land from St. Clair College to be used for the development of the park.

The tennis dome will be built in conjunction with Tennis Clubs of Canada who will operate the dome.

The plan will also see the construction of a washroom facility, 10 pickleball courts, two multi-use sports courts, playgrounds, a cricket pitch, a soccer field with a washroom, and grassy areas.

Rob Pollock, C-K’s director of parks, fleet and facilities, said the goal is to have the tennis dome ready for use by the end of October 2024.

“We have our construction project, then Tennis Clubs of Canada is coming in to build the dome and the tennis courts,” Pollock told council, adding the municipality will be responsible for items such as snow removal and grass cutting.

Council has also directed administration to investigate the design of a multi-use indoor soccer facility as part of phase two of the project.

The project is being praised as an excellent addition to the municipality, available to all residents of Chatham-Kent.

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