Ham East plan begins
A new playground in Steele Park marks the first step towards redevelopment of the city’s most historic suburb.
The park, aptly named Steele Park Playground, is the first project under the Hamilton East Neighbourhood Plan.
It will be opened this weekend but a Hamilton city councillor reckons the suburb is already thriving and warns council should not stuff it up.
Hamilton East is one of the city’s oldest suburbs. Its Grey St was originally planned to be the main street of Hamilton.
Now, the long road holds the suburb’s primary commercial and retail precinct.
Hamilton City Council admits although Hamilton East backs onto the river, access from Grey St is poor and is a lost opportunity. But work is planned to meet those challenges.
Parks and open spaces manager Sally Sheedy said during public consultation, people made it clear they felt a new playground for the area was needed.
Two residents who work in Hamilton East said the playground’s addition attracted a more family-friendly audience.
Patricia Harrison works at Duck Island Icecream, adjacent to Steele Park.
She envisions people stopping off at the business and going on to use the playground, especially in the summer time.
‘‘Already a lot of people eat their icecream in the park and sit on the grass, so I think it makes sense to have a playground there.
‘‘It’s great they’re making it quite family-focused because there are definitely a lot of families in this area.
‘‘It is a really wholesome way to revitalise this area,’’ she said.
Brooke Hill, who works across the road at Grey Street Kitchen, said Hamilton East was becoming more cultured.
Ideally, a stronger connection to Waikato River would benefit the suburb, she said.
The plan’s four themes aimed to stimulate positive change for Hamilton East: Hamilton East Village, connections, living heritage and active places.
Sheedy said Steele Park Playground is located at the northwestern corner of the park, replacing aging equipment on the southwestern corner.
The design incorporates shade from existing trees, and is walking distance to the public toilets.
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Left: Brooke Hill, Grey Street Kitchen, says Hamilton East is becoming more family-oriented. Right: Patricia Harrison from Duck Island Ice Cream says the new Steele Park Playground will be perfect for their customers.