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Stephenville outlines plans for 2022

A covered, wooden bridge in Ohio. The Town of Stephenville is considering a similar timber frame vehicle bridge as a refurbishment of the Minnesota Drive overpass. – © Pixabay

By Jaymie L. White

Special to the Appalachian

STEPHENVILLE – After a productive year and successful holiday season, the Town of Stephenville has a number of plans in the works for 2022.

“It’s a pandemic. We’re in Alert Level 4. It’s not good, but Stephenville has some great things coming up in the year,” promises Mayor Tom Rose.

One project has been on the books longer than expected. It was meant to be completed in 2021, but due to the pandemic there were unforeseen complications with procuring materials as manufacturers and industries closed or downsized. The unavoidable delays made project completion much more difficult, but a brand-new playground worth over a half million dollars will be completed at Blanche Brook Park this year.

“What’s great about it is it’s something that is needed in the community. Blanche Brook Park is a 20-acre site,” said Rose. “It will be stage one. When you have 20 acres there are a lot of opportunities in a park of that size and scale, but this is a start. It is a community playground, and that playground is for children, but those children have parents and grandparents, so I look at playgrounds as a site for all ages.”

The park is a large recreation project coming this year, and there are also plans for more infrastructure development.

“Pleasant Avenue Phase 2 will be completed this year. That is over a million dollar project. That will complete the full infrastructure: water, sewer, curbs, gutters, pavement. So for the residents of Pleasant Avenue coming into Crown, that’s going to be a major benefit. When we do major projects like that, there is a couple of side roads that get completed also.”

Another item on the Town’s To Do List is a planned total refurbishment of the overpass on Minnesota Drive. That will cost approximately $1.2 million, and Rose said the town is looking at moving in a different direction for that project.

“We’re now looking at, instead of continuing with steel and concrete on the upper section, we may consider Timber Frame which is trending in Canada and Europe. Timber Frame will still get your engineering 100-year mark on it. They are as strong as concrete and steel, but they have a lower carbon footprint and at times come in at a lower price point, so we’re looking at that now.”

Rose said a wooden overpass will add greater aesthetics by highlighting the busiest street, Carolina Avenue.

“Because we are a regional center, anybody coming in through Carolina from outlying communities, through the base, will transit through there and come in down through Main Street at our main shopping district.”

Town council has a green sustainability committee that was started last year, headed by Councillor Tristan Hulan, and there are plans to install solar lights in Blanche Brook Park as well. Some funding has been earmarked to make that happen. Rose said that Summer 2022 is going to be a big one for the town.

“With this being Come Home Year for Stephenville, I would like to see another planned event on Main Street this summer, whether it be a street dance or Christmas in July. So with the success with Christmas Adventure, it is something worthy of trying again.”

There is another project slated for 2022 that Mayor Rose said will help reinvigorate the region’s Indigenous culture, adding to the steps Stephenville has already taken.

“We’ve done some great work here in Stephenville like being the first community in the province to, in perpetuity, raise the Mi’kmaq flag. We have the annual Sweetgrass Festival taking place here, and we have partnered as a town with the Friendship Center, the People of the Dawn, with the establishment at the Cormac Center as their new home as a friendship center and as an incubator for business and social development.”

Rose believes that it is fitting for the town to develop some wigwams, to scale, to be erected in the community this year to re-state the strong Indigenous culture of Stephenville.

“Right now we are working on two and we may look at a couple of additional (ones) that may be erected. Through our Public Works Department, Mr. Dwayne Russell has been working closely with the People of the Dawn to get the right aspect in the design of these wigwams,” shared the mayor.

“I envision they will look exactly like a white birch wigwam that will have the entrances facing the east and be as authentic-looking as possible, but also will have lots of longevity for our harsh weather conditions that will stand the test of time,”

Rose said movement can also be expected soon on the airport.

“On Sept. 9, 2021, we had a press conference about a change of ownership for the Stephenville airport. It’s a lengthy process, obviously a major commercial account of that scale, due diligence completed on Dec. 31, and I’m hoping that transfer happens early this month and as spring breaks we will see some positive momentum and activity at the airport associated with Dymond Group of Companies.”

Rose believes this year’s plans will include something everyone can look forward to.

“We wanted to do a balanced approach, so I envision more paving on some of our streets in town, more sidewalks this year, and I’m hoping it will be a more robust year for both our airport and port properties,” said Rose. “If our port is busy and our airport is busy, the town is busy.”

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