Public reviews coming into lakeshore facelift

Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson is looking forward to public reviews this summer of the town’s ambitious project to give its lakeshore a major facelift.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson is looking forward to public reviews this summer of the town’s ambitious project to give its lakeshore a major facelift.

Already several years in the making, the multimillion-dollar project tested early the patience of some merchants tired of seeing construction crews in front of their stores.

“We had some mixed reviews during construction,” acknowledged Samson at an open house to show the public the plans for this year’s work.

But once the Centennial Park changes took shape last year, she’s heard a lot of positive feedback about the effort to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment by re-routing a portion of Lakeshore Drive to create an expanded park right up the water’s edge.

“I think a full test will be a summer without construction (in the park and the downtown), which will happen this year,” she said.

Alan Gassor, the town’s director of operations, also has seen early questions about the project take a more positive turn.

“Now, there’s something they can actually see.”

Only a handful of members of the public turned out in the first hour of the open house on Wednesday that was to run from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

One woman, who declined to give her name, seemed encouraged that the end was in sight for the project that is now in its fourth construction year.

“It’s coming. Simple as that,” she said, adding, “it will be beautiful.”

Project manager Steven Kennedy, of Associated Engineering, said in Centennial Park additions this year will include information kiosks, canopies around circular seating walls, shelters over three parking lot dropoff zones, and benches and tables.

The pedestrian boulevard will be extended from 40th to 34th Street and three links (two of them wheelchair accessible) will connect to the shale trail through the provincial park along the lakeshore. Five viewpoints with benches will be added to give people a place to sit and take in the scenery.

Another project will see a parking lot at the southeast corner of 44th Street and 50A Avenue redesigned with additional stalls. The town also plans to upgrade 40th Street between 50A Avenue and 50th Avenue with gutters, sidewalks and street lighting.

The cost of all the work is pegged at close to $4.2 million.

Also in the plans, and due to be tendered in mid-May, is an approximately $4.5-million project to create a two-lane paved Memorial Trail between Lakeway Boulevard and Hwy 20. Running alongside will be an asphalt walking and biking path.

Financially, the lakeshore project has seen mostly smooth sailing. The cost of the first three phases of work were originally pegged at $17.6 million and came in $4 million under budget.

Samson said the municipality has only had to pay a fraction of that cost because of federal and provincial grants and other funding, some of which came when the province turned over Centennial Park to the town.

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