June 26th, 2014
The Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club’s sale – or near-sale – of its Davisville lands to a developer has led to consternation from councillor Josh Matlow and residents in the area.
The owner of the green space on Manor Road East has been negotiating a deal with developer Michael Volpentesta, who aims to build five townhomes on the site.
That would put an end to the 90-plus-year-old patch of greenery in the Davisville neighbourhood, where green space is at a premium.
“We’ve been trying to sit down and meet with the president of the (lawn bowling) club since last March, but he hasn’t sat down with us,” Matlow said. “There’s already a possible deal between the club and the developer, but nobody in the community wants that.”
Matlow has secured council’s support to dip into the city’s parks acquisition fund in hopes of buying the property, either from the club or from Volpentesta. It’s believed the developer currently owns the land, though Matlow could not confirm the property’s sale had been finalized and, if it had, how much Volpentesta paid for the land.
The councillor noted the fund, primarily built up through development fees, allows the city to pay fair market value for land in order to turn sites into public parks.
In the Davisville neighbourhood that houses Glebe Manor, that could cost in the neighbourhood of $5 million.
“I hope the developer does the right thing and puts the community’s interests first here,” Matlow said. “What puzzles the people in the community and myself is why the owner wouldn’t talk to us, but seemed so eager to sell to the developer.”
The councillor added Volpentesta has not agreed to sit down with the community, but has expressed a willingness to listen to what the city will offer for the land.
Should the city be able to buy back the land, it would add a sizable green space to the neighbourhood. The Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club was a privately-owned facility permitted out for special events, though it did not offer unlimited free public access, as would a public park.
Despite that, Matlow said the loss of the space would be a blow to the community.
“This community has a dearth of green space, and the Glebe Manor Bowling Club has been here for almost a century,” he said. “It’s deeply valued by residents, and we’re willing to fight for green space here.”
He pointed to community efforts to save the Hodgson ice rink and get artificial turf installed at Maurice Cody Public School as evidence residents in the area will go to great lengths to fight for causes important to preserving the character of the neighbourhood.
“The community and I will fight hard against anything on that property other than green space,” he said.
He is urging residents to get in touch with his office, writing letters expressing their views on the matter.
Those looking to write in can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org