The opening of a new community-led open space on Friday 3 November is the first major milestone in the transformation and regeneration of Marfell Park in New Plymouth.
Work undertaken by New Plymouth District Council means the space in Cook Street has colourful new play equipment, including a flying fox, as well as a half-size basketball court and a concrete platform that can serve as a stage for community events.
It will also include improvements to the track through the park between Marfell Community School and Cook Street to encourage walking and cycling.
The open space was created in consultation with community groups and Marfell residents, with locals getting to vote on their preference for the new play equipment.
It was created on the site of two former Housing New Zealand homes, including one damaged by fire, that were scheduled for removal or demolition.
NPDC bought the homes in 2016 to create a welcoming new entrance to Marfell Park.
The completion of the project in partnership with the TSB Community Trust is an important milestone in the regeneration of the park, said NPDC Group Manager Strategy Liam Hodgetts.
NPDC is also starting a discussion with the community on the future of the BMX track, which has been unused since 2016.
“We’re considering two options for the site. They are an asphalt pump track or clearing the BMX track and returning the site to grass,” said Mr Hodgetts.
“However, we want to hear what the community says before we go ahead.”
Community Constable Nelson Pulotu helped organise the community consultation over the basketball court and arrange funding from the youth programme charity the North Taranaki Blue Light Ventures Trust and the Marfell Community Trust for the basketball hoops.
“A lot of the dramas with Marfell youth have a lot to do with a lack of facilities, but now we have one of the best sets of outdoor hoops in the New Plymouth District,” says Constable Pulotu.
“It’s great that NPDC is doing something for the locals and we want to encourage positive use of this facility and the playground.”
Marfell Community School Principal Janet Wilson said the new open space would help build community spirit in the area.
“There are a few up-and-coming basketball players who need the space and it’s a great playground for the kids who will be visible to their whanau,” says Mrs Wilson.
The project also includes a new home for Rangimarie Maori Arts and Crafts Society after NPDC approved a concessional land lease for a site just below the BMX track.