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Nelson Park on hold

West Enders waiting for a redeveloped Nelson Park in which to relax and meet friends or walk their dogs are going to have to wait a while longer.

Queer parks commissioner Spencer Herbert says tenders were sent out earlier this year for the work on the park. He was hopeful at the time that ground on the much-anticipated project would be broken this fall.

It wasn’t to be.

The tenders came in far higher than expected, Herbert says.

What should have been a $700,000 project would have cost more than $1.8 million if the tenders as they sat had been accepted.

Where does such a cost escalation come from? It’s simple, says Herbert: The 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

He says the demand for construction materials brought about by the Games has also impacted the reconstruction of little Nelson Park in the heart of the gaybourhood.

Now, says Herbert, parks staff are going back to the drawing board. “I know the community gets concerned. There certainly have been complaints.”

People have a right to be mad, he says. The public and government process to arrive at an acceptable design for the park has been “long and exhaustive.”

“It’s very frustrating,” he says. “But, hey, I guess that is the climate now. It’s definitely the Olympics. Even projects that aren’t related to the Olympics, we’re going to be battling that all the way through to [2010].”

A proposal that the parks board go to the community to do some fundraising to get the park completed was dismissed, he notes.

However, Herbert says once the material costs have been reassessed, the project will be re-tendered.

“Basically, we have to find some money from another project or we’ll be cutting back on the materials budget or maybe a bit of both,” he says.

Plans for the park as they sit now include a fenced off-leash area for dogs, an area with benches encircled by a band of trees, a water feature and another children’s playground. In order to accommodate area residents’ desires, the plans went back and forth to the designers several times.