Playground new battleground for mums
Two Hamilton mums are fighting plans to abandon dozens of smaller community playgrounds in favour of large suburban "destination playgrounds".
Their campaign is backed by a veteran Hamilton city councillor worried about families missing out on basic city amenities.
Vardon mums Caitriona Beggs and Davina Walters made submissions to the council's recent annual plan hearings highlighting the loss of amenities some local communities will face.
Beggs said their concern followed a seemingly minor incident in February in which a council mowing contractor hit a slide set among other children's play equipment in Vardon Park. Instead of being replaced or repaired the item was removed.
"The whole idea is to get the kids outside and away from the computer and into physical activity. If they build a bigger destination playground 5 kilometres away we'll have to get in the car to get there."
Councillor Dave Macpherson said he was also concerned at the loss of smaller playgrounds which acted as a focal point for local communities.
"This is the second such loss of local playground facilities reported to councillors this year - playing facilities in Karaka Park in Nawton were removed as a result of vandalism.
"While council's decision to construct more large ‘destination' playgrounds . . . looks good in theory, in practice it could lead to the loss of very basic playground facilities for local communities.
"Lost facilities in two local playgrounds in four months will translate to many more lost over the life of this council, and local families with pre-school kids will be the losers."
Beggs and Walters, who live about 50 metres from the Vardon Park playing area, said other options like using school playgrounds were not ideal as they were often not built for smaller children and some schools were fenced off.
Macpherson said he planned to move a resolution to have the Vardon Park slide replaced and to gain a costing for the adequate maintenance of smaller suburban play areas in Hamilton when the issue came back to the council during annual plan deliberations in June.
The council heard from more than 60 people who made submissions to the 2014-15 Draft Annual Plan.
The plan includes budget allocated to significantly develop Hamilton Gardens, the development around the river, upgrading playgrounds and free access to pools for children under 5.
The council also agreed to invest an additional $362,000 on city safety initiatives. The total rates increase for the city is still set at 3.8 per cent.