Council plays around with kids’ parks
Five Porirua playgrounds are being scrapped while two will be upgraded following a Porirua City Council rethink on how to best provide play areas for children.
Leisure, assets and services manager Karyn Stillwell says all Porirua’s playgrounds are safe but some are due for renewal and do not have an imaginative configuration of equipment or activities. They may also be close to a play space which has recently been upgraded, such as Waitangirua Park.
‘‘We have examples in the city where we have a small park with one swing, near to a small park with a see-saw, which are not far from a larger playground. We have others that attract the wrong kind of attention and as a result become underused.’’
Natone playground, near Waitangirua Park, will close in May, Gillies Place playground in Ranui Heights will close in June, and Annan Grove playground in Papakowhai is considered close enough to Aotea Lagoon to be non-essential. Its equipment will also be removed in June.
Two more playgrounds have already been decommissioned; Waihora playground, near Waitangirua Park, and Desert Gold playground in Ascot Park.
The impact of the latter should be softened by the upgrade of nearby Ascot Park playground, which will receive new equipment by July.
Likewise, a facelift to the Ernest St playground in Ranui Heights will offset the closure of the Gillies Pl play area. This upgrade should also be finished by July.
Ms Stillwell says it’s always a tough call to close a playground but that decision is made easier when the closing of an underused playground contributes to the upgrade and improvement of a nearby park that is within easy walking distance.
She says the council’s draft Play Spaces Strategy takes a ‘‘holistic view of playgrounds in the city’’ and will ensure playgrounds have equipment and activities in them that are fun and aid in child development.
‘‘ Our playgrounds need to provide a physical environment where kids can interact together and get involved in imaginative play. They also need to be safe and age appropriate.’’
The council also has to prioritise how it spends the playground renewal budget, she says.
‘‘We believe that the best way to do this is to ensure we have a good distribution of neighbourhood playgrounds in the city, and enhance city playground provision with the likes of Aotea Lagoon and Waitangirua Park.’’
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