Sudbury is asking the public for suggestions on what it should do with a prime piece of city-owned real estate in Bell Park.

The city will hold public consultations in the coming weeks to discuss a property off Paris Street, which had been used for decades as a parking lot by the now-closed Sudbury General Hospital.

Now that condominiums are being built where the hospital once stood, the city has to decide what to do with the prime lake-view lot, which is city-owned and actually part of Bell Park.

'It's an open brainstorming session, so we're just looking for ideas, creative thoughts.' - Catherine Matheson, community development general manager

"It's got great height, it's got great visibility, and it's a great opportunity for some new development for the citizens here in Sudbury," says community development general manager Catherine Matheson.

A report based on public consultations is expected to go before city council sometime early in the new year.

"It's an open brainstorming session, so we're just looking for ideas, creative thoughts,” she said.

‘Why destroy a park?’

But some say the possibilities for what to do with the property should not be so open.

The land was part of a gift to the city in 1926 by lumber magnate William Bell, who specified it should be used as a park.

Heritage advocate Gordon Drysdale says that means the parking lot can only be turned into green space and not a building of any kind.

"There's enough space everywhere else to put up buildings that they need,” Drysdale said. “Why destroy a park? Why go against what it is?"

Whatever the city decides to do with the property, Matheson says any plans will likely have to wait until the Health Sciences North employees stop using the lot.

She says many Sudbury hospital workers continue to park there, due to a shortage of spaces at the new hospital.

"We're certainly sympathetic to that,” Matheson said. “They have their own planning underway to deal with their issues for parking, and until that's resolved, we're probably going to continue to provide that opportunity for them at that site."

Health Sciences North is in talks to purchase land from the neighbouring Idylwylde Country Club in order to add more parking spots.