Brighter future for Myers Park

CHANGES AHEAD: Tina Plunkett with her daughter Jasmine at the old playground in Myers Park.
CHANGES AHEAD: Tina Plunkett with her daughter Jasmine at the old playground in Myers Park.

Parents are "chuffed" to see construction under way on a new playground in historic Myers Park.

But some say it will still take time for negative perceptions of the inner-city park to change after a homeless man was fatally stabbed there last year (Auckland City Harbour News, September 11, 2013).

Work on the playground is part of the Waitemata Local Board's $3.1 million development plan to revitalise the 100-year-old park.

It includes safety upgrades to improve lighting and the installation of six new CCTV cameras, as well as overhauls of the Queen St and Poynton Tce entrances, new furniture and vegetation management.

The project is to be completed by early next year in time for the park's centenary celebrations in February.

Board chairman Shale Chambers says it marks a return to the area's roots as a children's park.

"A new look and feel to the park is a good start but it's more than just that. Having CCTV actively monitored and new lighting is quite a dramatic improvement," he says.

"But there's perception and reality - it has a history and it may take some a while to feel comfortable in the park again."

Chambers hopes the developments will make it family friendly and safe to visit after dusk.

The existing playground has been closed and is being dismantled before a new collection of equipment is installed.

It is due to open later this year.

Karangahape Rd resident Tina Plunkett says parents are excited to see work begin. She visits the park daily with her 4-year-old daughter and says it is in need of a tidy-up.

Increased lighting and ensuring the park is well-used as part of future festivals and events will also help to reclaim it, Plunkett says.

"We're also hoping that along with more lighting and cameras there will be more police walking through the park."

Plunkett is disappointed that original plans to build a splashpad alongside the playground have dried up.

The plans were halted because of safety issues but will be revisited as part of stage two of the developments, Chambers says.

Overhauling the Mayoral Drive underpass entranceway to the park is also part of ongoing discussions.

It is under the control of Auckland Transport and the board is in negotiations to transfer its ownership so it can be upgraded.

It's a major area of concern and the board hoped the transfer would have been fast-tracked following last year's stabbing.

Auckland City Harbour News