Brighter future for park

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

PAR­ENTS are ‘‘chuffed’’ to see con­struc­tion un­der way on a new play­ground in his­toric My­ers Park.

But some say it will still take time for nega­tive per­cep­tions of the in­ner-city park to change af­ter a home­less man was fa­tally stabbed there last year ( Auck­land City Har­bour News, Septem­ber 11, 2013).

Work on the play­ground is part of the Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board’s $3.1 mil­lion de­vel­op­ment plan to re­vi­talise the 100-year-old park.

It in­cludes safety up­grades to im­prove light­ing and the in­stal­la­tion of six new CCTV cam­eras, as well as over­hauls of the Queen St and Poyn­ton Tce en­trances, new fur­ni­ture and veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment.

The project is to be com­pleted by early next year in time for the park’s cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions in Fe­bru­ary.

Board chair­man Shale Cham­bers says it marks a re­turn to the area’s roots as a chil­dren’s park.

‘‘A new look and feel to the park is a good start but it’s more than just that. Hav­ing CCTV ac­tively mon­i­tored and new light­ing is quite a dra­matic im­prove­ment,’’ he says.

‘‘But there’s per­cep­tion and re­al­ity – it has a his­tory and it may take some a while to feel com­fort­able in the park again.’’

Cham­bers hopes the de­vel­op­ments will make it fam­ily friendly and safe to visit af­ter dusk.

The ex­ist­ing play­ground has been closed and is be­ing dis­man­tled before a new col­lec­tion of equip­ment is in­stalled. It is due to open later this year. Karanga­hape Rd res­i­dent Tina Plun­kett says par­ents are ex­cited to see work be­gin. She vis­its the park daily with her 4-year-old daugh­ter and says it is in need of a tidy-up.

In­creased light­ing and en­sur­ing the park is well-used as part of future fes­ti­vals and events will also help to re­claim it, Plun­kett says.

‘‘We’re also hop­ing that along with more light­ing and cam­eras there will be more po­lice walk­ing through the park.’’

Plun­kett is dis­ap­pointed that orig­i­nal plans to build a splash­pad along­side the play­ground have dried up.

The plans were halted be­cause of safety is­sues but will be re­vis­ited as part of stage two of the de­vel­op­ments, Cham­bers says.

Over­haul­ing the May­oral Drive un­der­pass en­trance­way to the park is also part of on­go­ing dis­cus­sions.

It is un­der the con­trol of Auck­land Trans­port and the board is in ne­go­ti­a­tions to trans­fer its own­er­ship so it can be up­graded.

It’s a ma­jor area of con­cern and the board hoped the trans­fer would have been fast-tracked fol­low­ing last year’s stab­bing.

Photo: JESS LEE

Changes ahead: Tina Plun­kett with her daugh­ter Jas­mine at the old play­ground in My­ers Park.

Work be­gins: Con­struc­tion is un­der way on a new play­ground in My­ers Park as part of a ma­jor project to re­vi­talise the park. From left: Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board mem­ber Ver­non Tava, coun­cil­lor Mike Lee, board chair­man Shale Cham­bers, deputy chair­woman Pippa Coom and board mem­ber Rob Thomas.

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