Road park coming
Complete with miniature roads, intersections, working traffic lights, a roundabout, give-way and stop signs, Palmerston North’s Junior Road Safety Park is on course to open in time for the summer school holidays.
Despite the consistently wet weather, work on the former Esplanade caretaker’s house site by the Fitzherbert Ave entrance to the park, has much of the road base, kerbing and channelling now in place.
The $350,000 road safety park is designed so children can practise riding bikes in a fun, safe environment that has all the features of an actual roadway – minus, of course, vehicular traffic.
Jason Pilkington, the Palmerston North City Council’s leisure assets planner, said having the site so close to the main playground was ideal.
There will be a cycle station where the children using the park and adult cycling commuters can pump up tyres and carry out adjustments to their bikes.
On the outskirts of the miniature roadway is an off-road pump track with small jumps and banked corners. It crosses the roadway, so riders will have to look out for and give way to one another.
‘‘We’ve taken a different approach to some of the other road safety parks around the country. They can be quite sterile environments,’’ Pilkington said.
They had built around existing totara, magnolia and palm trees and kept some ground foliage.
‘‘We’ve been able to work with large specimen trees so it will fit in with the park environment and won’t look quite so austere. It’s been designed to look as if it has always been here.’’
Colourful moulded seating would also help soften the look.
Runoff from the miniature roadway will be filtered through a geo-textile cover into three subterranean rock-filled ‘‘rain gardens’’, which will let the water seep back into the water table.
‘‘It’s about developing more sustainable practices, and gives the water a chance to do what it would naturally do.’’
There were hopes of retaining the existing caretaker’s shed, but it was found to be structurally compromised. A replica will be built and its exterior walls decorated with a mural.
‘‘This has been a fantastic community project. The Pascal St Community Trust raised close to $250,000, and the council provided $100,000 towards the park,’’ Pilkington said.
Jason Pilkington from Palmerston North City Council, Karen Naylor from Pascal St Trust, project foreman Tony Belcher and project manager Shawn Signal on the road safety park site at the Esplanade.