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Where do the children play?

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 17/06/2014
Gould Reserve

MASTER PLAN: The playground plan proposed for Gould Reserve by Kerridge and Reeve.

Jackie Kerridge, Chris Reeve
Simon Maude
LEFT SWINGING: "People have been waiting 15 years for the playground, if we wait more it’s never going to happen, " says Jackie Kerridge pictured with partner Chris Reeve.

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Red tape is likely to stop Takapuna's beachfront getting a half-million-dollar playground by Christmas.

Philanthropic couple Chris Reeve and Jackie Kerridge, who are behind efforts to build the playground on Gould Reserve, say stalling by the local board means children are missing out.

The pair were inspired to take up the cause after kids walking by their Takapuna beach property kept asking for directions to a playground.

They have a private playground at the base of their beachfront property for their seven grandkids, provoking pangs of disappointment for passing children.

But Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Mike Cohen says the couple sprung their well-developed plans on the board at its last community forum.

"They only came to speak to us to us on May 27, I don't really want to put the board into a predetermined position," Cohen says.

The board is in the middle of seeking feedback on the future of a large area of Takapuna beachfront land, including Gould Reserve.

The Takapuna Beach Reserve Concept Plan won't be considered until at least August, Cohen says.

Kerridge and Reeve say the deadline is fast approaching for ordering playground equipment from Europe to be installed by Christmas.

"People have been waiting 15 years, if you wait more it's never going to happen," Kerridge says.

"We don't see why the project needs to follow this process, we're privately funding it and we would gift it to the board," she says.

If approved by the board, the couple would establish a playground charitable trust, donate $100,000 of their own money and put their efforts into helping raise $400,000 more, Reeve says.

The Takapuna Beach Business Association, Devonport-Takapuna Local Board deputy chairman Joseph Bergin and at least 14 schools and early childhood centres back the project.

Former Takapuna Community Board member Mike Sheehy says a playground plan he was involved with was forgotten after North Shore City Council was absorbed into Auckland Council.

"All I could get from council was, ‘we'll start thinking about in 2016'."

Now the campaign is in good hands, Sheehy says.

"Kerridge and Reeve's plans are outstanding. It's very generous and they've done their research, the whole thinking behind it is really good for the community," he says.

But board chairman Cohen says placing the couple's views before the wider community's would set a dangerous precedent.

After getting concept plan feedback, Kerridge and Reeve could be invited to join a board-appointed working party, he says.

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- North Shore Times

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