A proposed upgrade to Huntsville’s downtown should be done at the same time the District of Muskoka does major upgrades to the town’s sewers.
That’s according to Councillor Bob Stone. The total price tag of an updated streetscape along with the major underground upgrading of water and sewer systems will be around $5 million, but according to Councillor Stone, now is the time to do it:
In terms of the vision he and other councillors have for the updated look to Huntsville, Stone says there are a lot of boxes to check, but for him personally, having a well-treed downtown is what is missing now, and has been included in the overall design:
Stone says the work being done by the region is a once in a multi-generational upgrade, so to not do it now means it is likely the work would not be done for many years to come. Current projections for the start of the District of Muskoka sewage and water upgrades is 2019 or 2020. How long that, along with a simultaneous streetscape upgrade, will take is unknown until further planning is completed.
Next steps include another level of council approval to get engineering drawings done and a more accurate final cost. The other, potentially more delicate piece, will be meeting with the Business Improvement Area to discuss how long-term construction will affect retailers and what can be done to keep access open during this phase:
Another feature will be to turn Kent Park at Brunel Road and Main Street and transform it into a town square space for large celebrations and holiday events:
There is no opposition to the upgrades proposed, either by town council or citizens and, Stone points out, many of the design choices are the result of input from taxpayers:
Stone is very conscious of the fact that these types of big projects can quickly go over budget, but he points out there is a much larger than normal “fudge factor” built into the plans:
Regardless of the final bill, Stone points out, there is only one taxpayer whether it is the region doing its water and sewer changes, or the town getting the streetscape done:
He says the financial approvals are being done carefully and a close eye will be kept on the project as it goes forward.