Road park com­ing

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

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.

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