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Thunder Bay community group dissolves

12/11/30 — It’s the end of an era for the Thunder Bay community as the local property owners’ group has decided to fold up and give away all its assets.

The Property Owners’ Association of the Thunder Bay Area came to that conclusion last summer after facing the reality of dwindling membership and the increasing struggle to pay its bills.

If the association’s membership agrees when it meets Dec. 4, the Town of Fort Erie will assume ownership of the approximately one hectare of land and the community centre building at Bill Connolly field between Hyman and Jewell Avenues on Neva Road.

The association will donate the land on the proviso that it remain in public ownership as a park forever.

Town council readily agreed Monday and it is expected the keys to the building will be handed over on Dec. 17 and the association will be relieved of approximately $6,200 a year in costs for utilities, insurance and taxes.

The Town had already assumed some responsibility for the land in 2007 when it entered into a $1 per year lease and spent $250,000 to construct a playground and multi-use court.

The association retained the building and used it for numerous community events, mostly fundraisers to cover the cost of owning the building.

Association president Claudia Chiesi said fewer and fewer people over the years were able to participate in activities. Only 19 people remain as dues-paying members, she said.

“Most of us have other jobs, family obligations,” she said. “Not everyone can be available to do the work. It’s been a dilemma.”

The association was formed in 1949 and the property acquired in 1950, but it is not known how the acquisition came about. The building was built in 1951.

The field’s namesake — Bill Connolly — was a college athlete who organized sports and other activities for the children of the area, she said.

Records, memorabilia and other items have been given to the Fort Erie Museum. “They are eager to help preserve our legacy,” Chiesi said. “And that’s what we’d like to do.”

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