Niagara Falls prepares former parks and recreation building site for cemetery expansion

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Now that the historic old Parks, Recreation and Culture building on the corner of Lundy’s Lane and Montrose Road has been demolished, city officials are preparing for the site to become a gateway and columbarium for the Lundy’s Lane cemetery next door.

Demolition of the 107-year-old building was recently completed after being delayed for four months as further corrective action was needed due to heavy asbestos and mold.

Mark Richardson, director of cemetery services for the city, said staff had received proposals for the custom-built columbarium.

“There are two curved walls which will incorporate features of the former recreation building, so the stamped corners, the red brick, the stone base, the peaked roof features which are synonymous with the heritage designation,” a- he declared.

“It’s almost done – should be done in a week or two, as far as contract award goes.”

Richardson said staff are working on a request for proposals for related landscaping work.

“This would incorporate the interlocking path that leads to the cemetery, the large circular path that would house the large columbarium, but then, of course, the large red brick walkway that again will pay homage to the old recreation building.

The building was deemed unsalvageable by city council in 2019 despite its heritage designation. The municipality received two appeals of its decision, but last year voted to lift the designation.

Built as a school in 1915, the building became the city’s police headquarters in 1953 and a decade later housed the city’s parks, recreation and culture department. It closed in 2005 when staff moved to the new MacBain Community Center and it subsequently fell into disrepair, even after the city granted it historic designation in 2010.

Based on the sale of the columbarium lots and locations, the move is expected to generate approximately $1 million for the city.

According to an estimate brought to the council in 2019, the demolition of the building would have cost approximately $255,000. Renovating the building would have cost between $1.9 and $2.2 million, a price a council would not commit to.

The expansion of the cemetery site will allow for the construction of 275 buried lots, while a large columbarium garden with up to 400 niches for cremated remains will be created, which Richardson says will extend the life of the cemetery.

“We will not only honor and recognize the old recreation building and the historic features it had, but we will try to capture the full history of this corner – the families and the structures that were on this property “, he said.

Richardson said members of Lundy’s Lane Business Improvement Association were “actively” involved in the design and development of the project.

“They obviously want to green and beautify this corner, so in addition to the red brick walkway there will be significant gardens outside the cemetery and along the fence to create a bit of green screen,” he said.

“The whole space, although it will serve as a cemetery property, will also have a very park-like or garden-like feel”

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