Big plans for city play­grounds

Hamilton Press - - CONVERSATIONS -

When re­search­ing pos­si­ble play­ground op­por­tu­ni­ties, Har­daker had a good look across other New Zealand towns and Aus­tralia to see what play­ground de­signs were work­ing there.

Now it’s hard for her to choose a favourite Des­ti­na­tion Play­ground in Hamil­ton be­cause they are all unique.

‘‘You could go to three in a day and they’ll all be dif­fer­ent,’’ she said.

Har­daker be­lieves the Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds are an­other fam­ily at­trac­tion for vis­i­tors to Hamil­ton. As a city, we un­der­es­ti­mate our range of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, she said.

‘‘I do think we’ve got the best play­ground op­por­tu­ni­ties in ma­jor cities across New Zealand.

‘‘There is no other city in New Zealand that has got a pro­gramme like Hamil­ton’s Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds.’’

There are six other des­ti­na­tion play­grounds at Do­min­ion Park, Hamil­ton Lake Do­main, Parana Park, Claude­lands Park, Tauhara Park and Minogue Park.

Hamil­ton Mayor An­drew King said the fact that no play­ground was the same was fan­tas­tic.

‘‘They’re not a replica,’’ he said. ‘‘I haven’t seen any­thing bet­ter in the quan­tity that we have them.’’

Per­son­ally, he likes Naw­ton play­ground best.

‘‘On the open­ing day there was prob­a­bly five times as many chil­dren as there were adults. Bare feet, they were in short sleeves, the kids were happy.

‘‘They were stand­ing in line for free ice cream, (there was) rain, and no­body com­plained. It was a re­ally good at­mos­phere.’’

And though King doesn’t mind shar­ing the play­grounds with vis­i­tors, he likes the thought that they are here for the Hamil­ton peo­ple.

‘‘It doesn’t mat­ter if you have ac­cess to money or not. They’re not some­thing for an elite group. the

‘‘They’re for the kids of Hamil­ton, the par­ents of Hamil­ton, the grand­par­ents of Hamil­ton.’’

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil parks and open spaces man­ager Sally Sheedy said the coun­cil’s ap­proach has been to work closely with se­lected land­scape ar­chi­tects whose ex­per­tise al­low them to make the most of the sites.

They also ask for feed­back from the lo­cal com­mu­nity on what they would like to see in a play­ground.

Sheedy said each play­ground and lo­ca­tion was unique in terms of bud­get, there­fore the price ranges depend­ing on fa­cil­i­ties al­ready in the park and the pro­posed size of the play­ground.

The two re­cent Des­ti­na­tion Play­ground de­vel­op­ments in Hamil­ton Gar­dens and Do­min­ion Park had a bud­get of $1m, in­clud- ing as­so­ci­ated fa­cil­i­ties such as toi­lets and car park­ing.

They also re­ceive fi­nan­cial sup­port from phil­an­thropic fund­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions who con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ments, Sheedy said.

Hamil­ton also has 76 neigh­bour­hood play­grounds. With the fo­cus on Play­grounds of the Fu­ture, a small num­ber of ex­ist­ing neigh­bour­hood play­grounds will be phased out, based on ag­ing equip­ment and new play­grounds be­ing de­vel­oped close by.

‘‘They're for the kids of Hamil­ton, the par­ents of Hamil­ton, the grand­par­ents of Hamil­ton.’’

How­ever, Sheedy said the re­main­ing neigh­bour­hood play­grounds will still con­tinue to be main­tained and re­newed as re­quired.

‘‘Coun­cil has a fo­cus on mak­ing Hamil­ton great for fam­i­lies and our Des­ti­na­tion Play­grounds cer­tainly re­flect that.

‘‘We have been do­ing sur­veys of fam­i­lies us­ing our play­grounds to gain in­sight into the ones they en­joy the most and what they like about them.

‘‘Cer­tainly the Lake Do­main Des­ti­na­tion Play­ground has been very pop­u­lar, while Parana Park is very busy in the sum­mer as it’s suit­able for fam­i­lies with very young chil­dren. The wa­ter fea­ture is a par­tic­u­lar at­trac­tion.’’

Hamil­ton City Coun­cil un­der­stands that as Hamil­ton’s pop­u­la­tion grows, so will the pop­u­la­tion of young peo­ple who will use th­ese fa­cil­i­ties.

The Play­grounds of the Fu­ture plan is im­por­tant as the in­crease of higher-den­sity liv­ing needs to be com­ple­mented by fam­i­lyfriendly green spaces.

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