Resident Makes Plea To Community Of Shelburne To Help Stop Sale Of Fiddle Park

Making A Passionate Plea To Community to Help Save Fiddle Park, Resident Nikki Williams Speaks Out sharing the sentiments of an overwhelming number in the community of Shelburne. What Shelburnites want to know is if our elected officials will act on the community’s request and refuse to sell Fiddle Park, or will they disregard passionate pleas from the public as demonstrated during the council meeting held on Monday, June 4, 2018, place Shelburne’s relationship with KTH in jeopardy of loosing all future capital investment, and secure Shelburne’s future as a bedroom community without retail in place. Part of the thought reported behind the decision of consideration by Council was the potential tax money generated through growth aiding in sustaining Shelburne’s future, and attracting retail.

Mayor Bennington is on record for having explained during the council meeting that money, a sale in excess of 7 million dollars from the housing developer, Tribute Communities, is a huge incentive for selling the Parklands citing parks and fitness trails, a splash pad and dog park, funds for improved infrastructure and back up funds for Town emergencies played a huge role in his consideration of the sale proposal.  All good reasons, when considering running a Town, if only loosing Fiddle Park was not the cost.Those who attended the Town Council meeting weren’t buying the decision process council was trying to sell. Many commented that all the individual items mentioned, were wish list items, not committed to or planned for, and while possibly great for individual groups, Fiddle Park is actually for everyone.

A Town known for it’s resilience, compassion, welcoming nature, absolutely full of kind individuals who are hard working and caring, have experienced a phenomenon as of late, sharing a general and almost epidemic feeling of deflation, sadness, and lack of hope in many ways. Many who do understand the history of Shelburne, will not realize that our Service Clubs, The Kinsmen, The Kinettes, The Shelburne Legion, The Rotary Club, The Lions, and more may be just names of clubs, clubs some know nothing about, but there are many people behind each of these logos who have given years of their lives and raised thousands of dollars in order to sustain a community with projects, events, and the ability to extend pride in accomplishment, creating legacies. Fiddle Park is a massive legacy, a tribute to our community, a historic remembrance to Shelburne being thought of as the Fiddle Capital of the World. Times may change but community, the sense of belonging that brought original settlers to Shelburne and what attracts people to Shelburne today has never changed and has culminated in a gathering place known as Fiddle Park, a place we could remember and celebrate our rich history and share that history with our young people and those new to Shelburne creating new history together. Music is a universal language and is an integral part of Shelburne’s history and evolution. As the Fiddle may not be quite as popular as in years passed, music will never die, and Fiddle Park is still the place do it, all kinds of it.

If tensions are running high, and if those who do not understand the importance of a piece of land, understand that Shelburne’s sense of self, a piece of land that years of volunteering hours helped to buy, (remember some of those who worked to raise money for the purchase of his land are no longer with us) a place where our community, our whole community can enjoy for years to come, our legacy, is all at stake. While some things are merely business decisions, this particular decision involving this particular land, is personal to so many. For this reason, many Shelburnites feel betrayed by Shelburne Town Council after volunteering to help raise money to purchase land that eventually would be sold out from under them without even being informed in advance,  and the term, “slap in the face,” has been echoed sentiment through much of this reporting. Former Mayor Crewson had promised the land would never be sold, which also gave the community a sense of trust and commitment which current Council seems to not take into consideration forgetting that all though they may not be part of the Council who made that promise, they are the council for the community to which that promise was made. Promises are not legally binding and if not written down, mean they are only memories…and the Community of Shelburne has a very good memory!

Nikki Williams, (above) a long time resident and heavily invested volunteer in the community of Shelburne, initially wrote a passionate letter to Council and following the Council meeting, still passionate about saving Fiddle Park, decided to try her hand again. ” About 3 weeks ago, I wrote my letter to the town staff, councilors and forwarded it to the local papers.  It was truly from the heart. Two papers put it out there for all to see. One even quoted me on my intensity in his cover of the story. My trust has been broken… In a way…  My faith is failing… but… I understand, now, the need to unanimously vote for ‘consideration’ of the “Fiddle Park” sale.   It is only a consideration and a way (under the current bylaws) to listen and actually hear the people’s views and opinions on this matter. I will give these fine people on council, and staff, that… (Trust not broken yet.) Make the right decision!

I cannot say I hate, or strongly detest, ‘YET’, the council who unanimously voted to ‘CONSIDER’ the sale. I do however, hope they make the right decision for the people of this town. Those of us who have been here and made the efforts to improve this town.  In all honesty, we are the ones who will continue to put our efforts forward and improve this town! If we are allowed to give without it ALL being taken away!.

I saw at the last meeting WHO is trying to convince this town and this council to sell our beloved park.  I disagree with them, 90% to be honest. What does the CAO and Town Planner gain from this? I DO see the benefits, but to lose Not for Profit organizations, service clubs and families who have put so much into this town?  And your biggest employer??? Really?

Lately I have noticed a few things. Where exactly is our town spirit? Our hope and love of this small town place?

Where has the school spirit gone?  What are our Not for Profits doing? Service Clubs?  BIA? Where the heck are the flowers and hanging pots?  Are they at a standstill because of the threat of losing our one place to have a festival?  A place to meet and greet the newest citizens of this ever growing town? The visitors? This amazing place in town we can comune around? That’s where we are! We are waiting and hoping the right decision is made. All of the heart and soul waiting to be ‘allowed’ to continue to contribute without the threat of them taking it all away from us!

Many people have put their heart and soul into Shelburne, to keep it our small town feel… the people place you claim us to be….sigh.

I DO understand what the money will do for us. How it will help… But can we be real? Are you about to shut down the people who actually care? The ones who have been here for 40 + years, all the way to the people who care and have been here for 1+ years?  There is a reason families move here. DO NOT take that away! Do not make us Shel-Brampton. Those who came here,  came for a reason!!! Parks and recreation was something on the town budget! Why do we have to pay like this?

Do not appease me with a splash pad and dog park, when the service clubs alone could help create the dog park, and help with the splash pad!  Both could be put at Fiddle park… Just saying…

As someone said at the meeting… it literally costs residents in this town $2.50 per person per year to keep this park operational! She… and by the sound of all in attendance… would be more than willing to pay twice that for this park! Not to mention the cost it will entail for the workers and economy of our #1 employer in all of Dufferin County being reneged on the assurance you wouldn’t do this to their production and growth! ( I really think they made their thoughts, opinions and truth truly known!)

Let me ask you this council and staff… When we need a new arena, where will it go?  When we need land, ‘not just for us the citizens’… where will it go? Fiddle Park happens to be the absolute best pace to keep in your pocket!  You can put a soccer field, ball diamond, tennis court, parking lot and a future arena!! Yet, still host festivals and events that allow US the Town and surrounding areas to get together and celebrate OUR town!  The people are already coming and more will follow!

Please think long and hard before giving this amazing place that creates spirit, employment and effort in this town up! Realize what you would be taking from us all before you take to away!We need the people of this town to come and show support at the ‘final’ vote on Monday June 18, 2018 at the Shelburne Town hall at 7pm. Again, from the heart, Nikki Williams. “

Councillor’s have a very serious decision to be made that will affect the future of the Town of Shelburne economically, geographically, affect our population, all of which is their job, including and perhaps most seriously, the Town’s moral, spirit. The decision to accept the proposed sale of Fiddle Park will be held during the Council meeting scheduled for June 18, 2018.  While former Town Councillors can boast they helped accomplish a great feat in finding a secure home, a legacy for Shelburne’s famous Fiddle Park, perhaps current Town Councillors will have to live with obliterating that great feat and a community’s years of work in contribution. Change is always a difficult process to endure and while some change benefits a community immediately, other changes take time to reveal themselves in a positive light. Finally, in conclusion to this article, Shelburnites have commented that, ” We are not children. We need our elected officials, our Councillors to act on our behalf and not treat us like we don’t know what is actually good for us!”

Alex McLellan