September 30, 2022

It’s a home stand that Cornwall Minor Baseball doesn’t want to lose.

With lingering concerns they could lose their diamonds at Legion Park, association president Kyle Bergeron asked that election candidates pledge to help keep the ball fields for minor baseball.

Speaking to more than half a dozen candidates in the Legion Park parking lot, Bergeron was blunt about the necessity to get Cornwall council support on Saturday. 

“As you guys should probably know, the entire waterfront is up for sale,” Bergeron said to the circle of candidates, including Cornwall Mayor Glen Grant.

For his part, Grant spent almost as much time watering down Bergeron’s views as the baseball president did voicing them.

“We have an agreement with the federal government that we (the City) are going to acquire this land for one dollar,” Grant said, with the transaction still pending. 

Legion Park, and much of the waterfront, has been leased by the federal government to Cornwall for 99 years with the stipulation that properties be used for recreational purposes. The agreement is about halfway through its life.

In turn, the city subleases Legion Park to Cornwall baseball.

But securing minor baseball’s future at Legion Park appears more complicated than the official lease agreement.

“The city has the option of taking out of the lease,” cited Bergeron. “When there is new owners, the city can cancel that lease.”

Grant agreed there is always that possibility depending on the view of the council of today and tomorrow, “but there is no intent” of that with the current council.

“It would be a bit of a disaster,” Bergeron said, with Grant agreeing: “It would be.”

Bergeron cited Cornwall Minor Baseball’s considerable fundraising and volunteer work to provide an ideal venue for Cornwall families.

He estimated the total value invested is probably more than $1 million in today’s currency value.

While Grant’s assurances may appear solid, waterfront committee discussions about the waterfront’s future have led Cornwall Minor Baseball to take an ominous outlook.

“There has been attempts in the past by city (administration) and city politicians to remove us from this park. And that is fact,” Bergeron said. “We can see that (information) in the (Cornwall) waterfront plan and recreation master plan.”

At various times, committee discussions involved the possibility of all or some of Legion Park being used for condo buildings and a new multi-purpose arena. Nothing concrete came out of this.

But Bergeron worries about the potentially murky future, and this predicament was voiced by an onlooker, claiming to have received an email from an eight-year-old boy, who had asked if the ball parks would be moved and replaced by parking lots.

Bergeron in turn noted the recreation master plan calls for the three smallest diamonds on the east side of Legion Park to be asphalted under. The parking would presumably serve the proposed condo units attached to the Cotton Mill district revitalization.

Grant cautioned “we haven’t got to that point” of developing that part of the harbour lands.

But giving up a couple of these diamonds, which are the least utilized, wouldn’t be much of a setback, Bergeron said, explaining they have space available on the west side to place new diamonds that don’t require fencing.

The discussion veered off about Legion Park’s future to what improvements could be undertaken, including lighting and more lucrative rental opportunities to outside baseball associations.

Bergeron was overall pleased with the awareness generated with meeting.

“We’re going to let our baseball parents know who’s been down here, who’s serious in working with the community,” he said, noting that except for Mayor Grant and mayoral candidate Justin Towndale, who was out of town on military maneuvers, the candidates in attendance were not current council members.

Signing the pledge as of Saturday were mayoral candidate James Leroux, and council candidates Bruce Baker, Cory Dixon, Mark MacDonald, Ryan Martelle, Claude Poirier, Steven Robinson, and Gerald Samson.

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