Forest Hill Village residents can finally visit Suydam Park again, after the construction hoarding surrounding the new Forest Hill North Gateway was removed in October.
The final component, custom pedestrian lights, are to be installed in December, eight months after the hoarding went up in April and five months after the park was originally scheduled to reopen in July.
Ward 21 Councillor Joe Mihevc said he is “very disappointed” a project which should have taken “three weeks” took several months. He has asked the city’s Economic Development and Culture division to review the project and make sure that a similar delay doesn’t happen again.
“It’s not the city at its best,” he admitted. “We lost a summer of use, and I don’t think the project was thought through carefully.”
The delay was mainly the result of two elements, Mihevc said: the construction of a crosswalk at the north end of the park, and a “change in scope” requested by the Forest Hill Village BIA, which is funding half the project.
Contractors do not work on top of each other, so once the park contractor found out the crosswalk contractor was going there, the park contractor pulled back, even though they had set up already, Mihevc said.
As for the change in scope, during the Gateway’s construction staff discovered the park’s infrastructure could accommodate a drinking fountain, an element of the original plan which had reluctantly been removed.
The BIA also requested new sodding for the entire park, which could only be completed once the weather cooled, Raj Kumar, the Gateway’s project manager with the city’s Economic Development and Culture division, said.
“If it’s too hot, the sod would not settle in the ground,” she explained.
The pedestrian lights were always going to be delayed, Kumar said. With 90 percent of the work complete, their levels can now be calibrated according to the needs of the park.
Representatives from the Forest Hill Village BIA did not respond to requests for comment.
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