Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club … Park?

Land at site of contentious development deal to be acquired by city, kept as greenspace

It was an unlikely ending to an already bizarre story.

The now-unused land at the site of the former Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club — which became a contentious neighbourhood issue after it was believed to be sold to a developer to build houses on it — will mostly be saved and kept as greenspace, ending more than two years of tension between the club’s former board, Councillor Josh Matlow and the local community.

Matlow announced in early January that city staff had managed to negotiate with developer and owner of the property at 196 Manor Rd. E., Michael Volpentesta, and that while the deal is still yet to close, the city will be acquiring approximately 80 percent of the greenspace.

“There were times where (saving the greenspace) looked unlikely and it was a very difficult journey,” said Matlow, who first attempted making overtures regarding a potential acquisition of the land in late 2013. “I’m so happy for the community that we were able to protect as much greenspace as we have.”

The Town Crier first covered the story in June, 2014, when neighbourhood resident and former club member Derek Tilley brought the issue forward.

Over the seven months that followed, the story grew from neighbours being concerned about a housing development and loss of greenspace, to a shareholder meeting guarded by private security where only some shareholders were allowed access, culminating in a 20-minute debate between the club’s lawyer Jayson Schwarz and Matlow.

Throughout the past two years, accusations of contradictory behaviour hounded the club’s board and lawyer, who remained steadfast in their position that the sale of the property to a developer was open and transparent.

Now that another deal is in the final stages and will ensure a greenspace for most of the land, with a single home being built on the 20 percent retained by Volpentesta, Tilley says he’s happy with the result.

“I’m happy the land is remaining a greenspace,” he said. “Now there’s a public space nearby where residents can go, get outside and enjoy quiet time in a park.”

The city is acquiring 1,138 square metres of land, which Matlow says will become the subject of community discussions later this year to make plans for its use.

Matlow also worked over the past year with Manor Road United Church to acquire some of its land for a park, making him “two for two,” he said with a laugh.

“I’m just so happy we were able to achieve our goal to create a public park at the former Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club site,” he said.

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Posted: Jan 21 2016 5:32 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto