Feedback on Cooke Park Playground closes November 3

Members from the Cooke Park Playground Community Group are keen to work with council for a upgrade that reflects our community - have your say by November 3 Image Jody Gilchrist

Members from the Cooke Park Playground Community Group are keen to work with council for a upgrade that reflects our community – have your say by November 3 Image Jody Gilchrist

HT has been approached by community members concerned with the plans for Cooke Park play equipment. Council has received communication expressing both viewpoints – what do you think?

From Travis Earsman, Cooke Park Playground Community Group

Cooke Park was built to commemorate Maleny pioneers Ada and Alfred Cooke, whose family donated the land to the community in 1946. Since this time it has been a place of rest and recreation and its historic entrance shelter, clock tower and established trees are testament to this heritage.

Situated in the very heart of the town, Cooke Park’s identity has long been resonant with the spirit of Maleny.

In October of this year the much-loved playground in Cooke Park was demolished. Whilst Council had followed protocol in their efforts to advise the community of this by posting a sign, the majority of the residents simply had no idea it was going to happen.

Once demolition had been carried out, images began to circulate on social media of the play facility that Council were intending to install as part of an ‘upgrade’.

The community response was largely one of disappointment, as the proposed playground was an off-the-shelf facility that had nothing of the unique charm and multi-faceted play opportunities of the old playground.

For it to truly be an upgrade, and truly honour the park’s rich heritage, the new facility would also need to be at least as imaginative and artistic as the old one, built by Harry Pearson in 2009 and listed on the Public Art Register.

It would also need to cater for all ages and all facets of ‘play’; the physical, creative, cognitive, social and individual needs of the child, as well as facilitate quiet-play.

Council have halted construction after a public outcry, and have responded to the call for community consultation by offering one alternate design example.

This is an important step forward, as Option 2 is quite close to what was there before.

As Council have indicated that they are open to a submission from the community, our proposal would be this: Council builds Option 2 with significant input from the community; directed either by Council’s excellent in-house designer or a private designer sourced by the community.

This is a direction that, if accepted, would certainly deliver a facility that is truly representative of both the Council and the community’s vision as well as meeting the children’s needs.

Councillor Jenny McKay from Sunshine Coast Council  responded to our questions

A community group has indicated to HT they would like more involvement in the upgrade of Cooke Park Playground, is there scope for this?  The decision regarding what play equipment is installed and potential for further community involvement will depend on the outcome of the survey which closes on 3 November 2017.

How much consultation/where was consultation prior to the removal? The project was considered renewal of playground equipment (Council has 334 playgrounds with an asset renewal program based on regular inspections) and, as the replacement offered an increased range of play opportunities and was in a relatively small local park, was not subject to community consultation. This allows the maximum budget to be spent on ‘on-ground’ play equipment rather than internal Council costs.

The old timber play equipment had the following play value: two level fort, two climbing nets, single slide (plastic), entry ramp, toddler and child swing set and Spica spinner.

The proposed play equipment (option 1 in the survey) has: Two platforms, spider net bug game and anatomy of a bee panels, ‘logo’ and ‘sunbeam’ climbers (wonky shaped ladders), double slide (plastic), single rope climb, toddler and child swing set, Spica spinner and ‘caterpillar’ tunnel.

The play equipment is manufactured and installed by ‘Playscape Creations’ who deliver a high quality product.

Could you clarify why was it removed and has it been relocated? Initially, with hopes of retaining the structure, a structural engineer was commissioned by Council to inspect the structure and advised against retaining it due to extensive rot. The structure has been removed by the contractor and not been used elsewhere by Council.

Is Council able to work with volunteering local builders/designers/artisans to create a more cost-effective approach? Council has demonstrated excellent partnerships with the community in similar projects. Any purchasing would require to adhere to Council’s purchasing policy, and community involvement would need to be managed to ensure an open and transparent process which is fair to everyone. In addition, playgrounds standards would have to be strictly adhered to ensure children’s safety.

Is the path, gate, trees and fencing to make the park safer available on both options? The works for the path, gate and trees are available for both options.

Could toilets also be part of the plan? There are existing toilets (near the Community Hall) a 145m walk away from the park. Council’s Environment and Liveability Strategy, which was subject to extensive community engagement, sets out the desired standards of service for parks, and toilets are not included on the list of suitable embellishments for local recreation parks.

Vote today – you have until 5pm November 3 : https://haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/cooke-park-playground/ Alternatively, you can email your feedback to parkscapitalworks@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au

To contact Travis Earsman, call 5435 2047 and 0427 705 315 or via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/malenytown/

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