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Cornwall Park playground upgrade work begins

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Work has begun transforming Cornwall Park’s playground with new state-of-the-art features, making it one of the premier destination playgrounds in the district.

The playground upgrade was identified as a priority in the park’s Reserve Management Plan that was created in consultation with the community and aims to fulfil the aspirations of the many residents for whom Cornwall Park is a much-loved landmark.

Home to the Cornwall Park Cricket Club and Cornwall Park Playcentre, the park also provides other sporting, recreational and leisure opportunities. The park contains a number of facilities of cultural, historic and environmental value and significance, including protected trees, cricket pitches, John Holt Memorial Display House, Osmanthus Gardens, ornamental lake, stream, bird aviary, and the playground.

This year the Hastings District Council along with the community identified in the Reserve Management Plan that the playground, which was in an ageing condition, should be upgraded.

That time has come and the initial groundworks began this week, including closing the playground and fencing off the site.

Artwork will be a central feature of the new playground.

Along with three silver birch, the upgrade required a Redwood tree to be removed, due to it showing signs of decline, and to safely incorporate the new playground into the space. While the tree, which was not a heritage tree, will be absent in its current form, it is being made into a specially carved pou by local carver and artist Thompson Hokianga.

The community was consulted about the tree’s removal as part of the Reserve Management Plan adopted earlier in the year. "As a locally born and raised artist I am once again privileged to be given the opportunity to work alongside Hastings District Council to embellish local surroundings," Mr Hokianga said.

Initially, with the exception of the splash pad, the play equipment that no longer meets Health and Safety requirements will be removed - to be recycled where possible - and the wheelchair-accessible Liberty Swing will be relocated to Frimley Park.

Then will come the exciting new equipment that caters for all ages and includes a giant "acorn tower" with connecting rope structures and slides - standing at near 10 metres tall, it’s a first in New Zealand.

There will also be a flying fox, extra splash pad features, more swings, a junior play area, monkey bars, slides, a tunnel, trampolines, spinners and more.

The area will be landscaped to fit into and respect the surrounding landscape and pick up on the water and oak tree features, at the same time leaving space for the existing historic elements.

New toilets, shade sails, furniture and a drinking fountain are also being installed. The work is estimated to be completed by the middle of December this year.

The development reflects the council’s commitment to investing in the district’s public spaces, and this will bring Cornwall Park in line with the premier upgrades that have happened at Havelock North Village Green and Flaxmere Park.

The undertaking is being welcomed by the Friends of Cornwall Park, a group of more than 100 residents.

"The Friends of Cornwall Park thank the Hastings District Council for their ongoing communication and discussions regarding the plans for Cornwall Park," says group spokesperson Marina Dinsdale.

"We are delighted to see work commencing on the development and upgrading of Cornwall Park as identified as a priority in the Cornwall Park Reserve Management Plan as it reflects the importance of the park to the community."

Cornwall Park Playcentre president Margaret McBride says the playcentre whānau are looking forward to watching progress, and seeing the equipment installed. "Tamariki will enjoy watching the big machinery on a daily basis, as our session hours will be mostly unaffected throughout the process. Although it may be harder to get them to leave the park!"

Hastings district councillors Ann Redstone and Wendy Schollum are also pleased work is getting underway.

"I’m particularly thrilled that this playground will cater for all ages - sometimes it’s hard to find places for older kids - with this we have something for everyone," Mrs Redstone says.

Mrs Schollum takes her kids to Cornwall Park regularly and is looking forward to visiting when the park re-opens in December.

"I’m excited to introduce the kids to the new playground and it’s also great that there will be toilets nearby and better lines of sight to keep an eye on them while they are playing - it will be a huge improvement."

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