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‘Jewel’ of a park gets its chance to shine

Sep 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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Lighter, tidier and easier to get around: the new-look Central Park.

A MILLION-DOLLAR makeover for Central Park is set for completion in two weeks,  with new tree plantings, granite benches, asphalt, lights, rock walls and steps sprucing up rundown areas within the Brooklyn green belt.

Barbara Hardy, one of the leaders of Friends of Central Park, says the restoration, which began in March 2008, has brought new life to the park.

Ms Hardy says she is pleased with the path by the playground and is impressed with the new toilets. 

“The refreshed look brings more people into the park and it is no longer just an area to walk through. The place is not so grungy now.”

Wellington city councillor Celia Wade-Brown is delighted with the restoration: “Central Park is a jewel in Wellington’s network of reserves but its paths, playground, toilet and signage were poor quality.”

Five curved bridges have been built to provide access to Motorua Stream and an upgraded route has been built to complete the loop to Ohiro Road.

The main bridge has also been upgraded with additional non-slip material, new mesh and a fresh lick of paint.

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Joanna Morton, left, and Barbara Hardy are among the volunteers adding their efforts to the park upgrade.

The $1.2 million overhaul will be wrapped up by September 25. Most of the funding ($950,000)  has been provided by the the Plimmer Bequest and the remainder by Wellington City Council.

The Plimmer Trust was established in 1980, 50 years after Charles Plimmer died, bequeathing the income from his residual estate to the council for the benefit of Wellingtonians.

Mr Plimmer required the funds to be spent on beautifying the bays, beaches and reserves around Wellington.

The Central Park upgrade was one of nine shortlisted projects and, along with Scorching Bay, was selected as the “best fit” for Plimmer funding. Central Park was chosen because of an anticipated increase in visitor demands.

Ms Hardy is happy with how the money is being spent. She describes the park as a work in progress. The only thing she would like to see more of is some picnic tables.

Bruce Moorman, Central Park project manager says the majority of the major decisions were based around the 71 submissions from the public.

“They were very useful: It seems as though we have pleased many people,” he says.

Ms Wade-Brown explains that money – for example, for the public toilets and playgrounds – was already in the council’s 10-year budget, “but we adjusted the timing to fit with the restoration project”.

A main goal of the project was to let more light into the park by pruning and selectively removing existing vegetation.

All residents of Wellington will benefit from the restoration, particularly locals living in flats or apartments without much open space, says Ms Wade-Brown. She says native birds and other species will flourish.

Ms Wade-Brown praises the “excellent efforts” by Friends of Central Park volunteers. She says they have advocated for improvements, been consulted on the plans and worked hard on restoring native vegetation along the Moturoa Stream. They have planted hundreds of plants, mostly from the council’s Berhampore plant nursery.

Friends of Central Park meet on the last Sunday of the month from 10am to 12pm. Workers help with activities such as weeding and planting and have a shared morning tea.

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