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Residents say old mall property haven for trash, hazards

by Keith Corcoran

Tommy Wile and Lynn Borgel check out a pile of debris in the parking lot of the former South Shore Mall property on North Street in Bridgewater.
 BRIDGEWATER - The former South Shore Mall property is a haven for garbage dumpers and the mall's condition leaves it open for someone to get hurt, say Bridgewater residents neighbouring the North Street land.

 On the outside one can find off the parking lot several beat-up shopping carts, bags of trash including one containing an animal carcass, a large pile of steel near a lamppost, even a syringe.

 Taking a look inside the graffiti-ridden mall isn't much better. But what some residents find alarming is the number of ways anyone can enter and do what they want.

 "Somebody's going to get hurt in there," said neighbouring resident Tommy Wile, who showed this newspaper several points of entry to the mall, including one smashed-out entryway with daggers of glass sticking out.

  The old mall's been boarded up for safety reasons before but Mr. Wile said the panelling doesn't stay in place long before he hears people ripping it off during the night.

 Mr. Wile said he remembers when the property was home to a bustling shopping centre that had more respect for the land.

 "When the mall was open there was no garbage laying around the mall or anything," he said.

 The volume of garbage on the property surpasses what he's noticed in past years.

 "I'm sure if this was behind the mayor's house it wouldn't be," Mr. Wile said.

 He's also annoyed so many pine trees were cut years ago between the old mall property and along Aberdeen Road, which he said diminished the noise buffer.

 Lynn Borgel, another neighbour-ing resident, said the property demonstrates a lack of respect for the environment.

 "This landowner should be made to get rid of this kind of stuff," she told this newspaper. "This encourages people to drop off their garbage."

 Mr. Wile said he suspects the property owner, who is from outside the province, doesn't know what shape the land or the mall is in.

 "I don't know what kind of a fool he's making out of the town but he's saying now for what, seven or eight years that he's going to do something here."

 Two years have passed since Ontario developer Lou Reznick introduced plans to transform the property into a large commercial and residential destination.

 Condominiums, townhouses, single-unit dwellings and a hotel were included in the plan. So were stand-alone buildings slated to become restaurants, a 50,000-square-foot hotel and a 15,000-square-foot conference centre. Two apartment buildings and a condominium - each comprised of 50 units - are also part of the project.

 However, no development has taken place.

 When notified of the complaints, Bridgewater Mayor Carroll Publicover promised he'd let the town's engineering department know about the property's condition.

 He said the town in the past has boarded up the old mall and covered paint marks and billed the property owner for the work.

 If anyone has complaints, contact the town. "We operate on a complaint action basis," the mayor said.

 Neither the town's engineer nor Mr. Reznick immediately returned telephone messages or e-mails.

 In a previous interview, Mr. Reznick said those familiar with the development business know things don't always move as quickly as some would like.

 "It's planning, it's land use, it's the actual site conditions. It's just all of the above," he said. "It just takes time."

posted on 04/28/09
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