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Renfrew makes a splash with new recreation facilities

Renfrew now has brand new tennis and pickleball facilities and they were officially opened last week.

For some of the sweat-drenched tennis or pickleball players who wanted to cool off after playing in temperatures nearing 40 degrees last week, the official opening of the newly expanded splash pad could not have come at a better time.

They joined Renfrew town staff, elected officials, the Rotary Club and hometown residents to celebrate the grand opening of the new tennis and pickleball courts and a major expansion to the town’s splash pad park.

The town partnered with the provincial and federal government for a $16.5 million investment into the 34-year old Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre where the new additions are located.

Renfrew Councillor Tom Sidney, who is chair of the town’s parks and recreation committee, said the turnout and excitement has made the last eight years well worth the effort.

“When I was first elected in 2014, I was appointed chair of the rec committee and over the last eight years our staff, volunteers and the contractors have worked hard to get to where we are today,” he said. “I made it one of my priorities as a councillor to improve and increase recreational opportunities for our youth as one way to promote a healthy community, but also provide options for all our residents.

“The splash pad is Renfrew’s number one used facility, so we’re happy that people are loving it,” he added. “I have to give credit to the Rotary Club for all their support for this and other projects.”

The original splash pad was installed in 2005 and the Renfrew Rotary Club was the driving force behind it, and since that time its popularity has steadily grown. With the club celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, they decided to once again invest in the splash pad in order to expand the site to meet the increased demand of the summer activity.

Bruce Rozycki, a longtime Rotarian and current club president, said the $75,000 investment, helped the town meet the $180,000 price tag while at the same time, reduce the impact on ratepayers.

“It’s actually turned out fantastic for us as it was a nice way to mark our club’s anniversary,” Rozycki said. “The splash pad is a way for families to come out to a fun activity and we agreed as a club that this year our funds are being directed to youth projects including investing in the new playground structure at Central Public School.”

He said the donation on behalf of the club was made possible through the estate of Frances Wilson. It was her desire that any financial support through her estate and the Rotary Club be directed towards children’s and family activities if possible.

Construction was a joint effort between two firms: ABC Recreation handled the supply and installation of the equipment while McGrimmon Holdings was in charge of the excavation, concrete and infrastructure work.

Pickleball arrives in Renfrew

The modernization of Ma-Te-Way Park from being primarily a hockey arena when it was first built in 1988 to a modern recreational facility offering several options will now feature four pickleball courts alongside five new tennis courts.

Although there were tennis courts located at Ma-Te-Way prior to the installation of the new courts, the Renfrew Tennis Club worked with town staff to transition to a different location because they needed to move the original courts due to them overlapping the ongoing Ma-te-Way Activity Centre expansion.

Pickleball is a relatively new sport to the area and gaining popularity with an active league using the Renfrew Armouries to play. However, the sport has gained a very large following and there was neither ample space nor time rentals available to meet the growing demand.

That certainly was not an issue during the grand opening of the courts with members from both sports on hand offering free sessions. Parks, recreation and facilities director Kevin Hill says the courts project was only a suggestion prior to the expansion getting underway and soon became a reality with all parties excited about the new facility.

“I appreciate the tennis club and the pickleball folks in assisting us with this change,” Hill said. “The idea blossomed into what we have and it is two great family sports for all ages. One of the good news stories about these courts is the cost. The original tenders for the project came in between $1.1 and 1.4 million, but staff were able to get that down to about $600,000.”

Mayor Don Eady, who is serving the final few months as head of council since elected in 2014, was all smiles as he walked around chatting to some Rotarians who were busy cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers for the crowd.

“This is really a great day for everyone involved in this project,” Eady said. “This is a major investment in terms of recreational options for the people of Renfrew and surrounding area. It is rewarding when you see volunteers like the Rotary Club and others give back to their community so that facilities like this can be enjoyed by everyone.”

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