Already thriving after last year’s radical surgery, the Crooks’ Hollow Conservation Area is poised for the next step in its rehabilitation.
A proposed $156,000 master plan expected to go out for public consultation in October focuses on improving the 43-hectactare park’s trails and highlighting the area’s significance inCanada’s early industrial development.
They are the finishing touches on a $1.4-million restoration project that removed the area’s dam and reservoir, returning Spencer Creek to a more historic, meandering flow.
“This isn’t a real big plan, lots of money. We’re trying to manage an area,” said Sandy Bell, manager of design and development for the Hamilton Conservation Authority.
“It’s really for someone who’s interested in the walk,” he said. “I think it fits with what the community wants to see for this area, a more low-key area.”
Bell said the plan will add several informal side trails to the main, two-kilometre route that follows Spencer Creek between Christie Lake Conservation Area and Webster’s Falls.
Upgrades include improved trail surfacing, a new section of boardwalk, two new stairways, more signage, and erosion, drainage and trail bridge repairs.
The plan also proposes to phase out a side trail along Crooks’ Hollow Road and return a small, grassy secondary parking area to nature, shifting vehicular access to an expanded and upgraded main lot.
Bell said the overall goal of the trail plan is to keep people away from sensitive spots on the south side of the creek while letting them enjoy nature’s charms.
He said he expects some resistance to removing the trail by the road on the north side, but it has bridges that are difficult to maintain.
“I know some people still use it and it may be hard to change minds there about that,” he said during a presentation to the authority’s conservation advisory board, which endorsed a staff recommendation to consult the public on the plan.
“It may be one area that the community there may not agree with, but that’s how we’re trying to keep it to the one-trail corridor through the property.”
The plan also earmarks $46,000 to upgrade six historical ruins and sites in the Crooks’ Hollow area, a former industrial hub that once boasted a gin distillery, saw mill, cooperage, linseed oil company, paper mill and flour mill.
Work will include removal of graffiti and vegetation that threatens their foundations, and updated interpretive signage with QR codes to allow visitors to learn more about their history via smart phone.
One of the proposed new stairways will lead to the remnants of the Cockburn dam and mill. The authority will also consider how to best preserve the 1813 Darnley Grist Mill, which later became the Greensville Paper Co. and was destroyed by fire in 1943.
It is defaced with graffiti in several areas despite being fenced off from the public.