Community group working with council to seek upgrade of play park

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A LOCAL community group says it is working with the council with a view to seeking the upgrading and re-opening of its play area.

Padlocks have been thrown up in recent weeks on the gates to the playground in Innisfree Gardens area which is owned by Fountain Street Community Development Association (FSCDA).

In recent months, the neglected playpark has fallen into a state of disrepair with community workers warning parents that it is not a safe area for their children to be playing in.

FSCDA, who are responsible for park, say the move is only temporary as they are currently in negotiations with the local council regarding the upgrading of the park to suit the under five age bracket.

If those discussions, which began back in August last year, come to fruition, council will take over the lease and responsibility for the park.

Under the proposals due to be put forward to council are plans to replace the old equipment, ground surface, fencing and to enhance the worn pitch to a multi-use space facility.

However it's understood that some parents are continuing to allow their children entry into the park against the wishes of the community group.

FSCDA has now issued a detailed letter to homes in and around the Head of the Town area clarifying the situation and asking parents to ascede to the safety warning.

Current project co-ordinator, Gina Devine, explained: "For quite some time now, the equipment in the park has been past its sell-by date and has greatly deteriorated. The community group was not in a position financially to upgrade the play park to a standard that would be safe and also of sufficient quality.

"We have met with Derry City and Strabane District Council on several different occasions. We feel that the best possibility for improving and maintaining the park area is for the council to adopt the responsibility for the upgrading and maintenance of it.



"As part of these meetings they strongly advised us that the park in its current condition should not be open to the public. We felt we had no choice but to take this advice, while talks continued about a possible transfer of responsibility.

"This was, and is, a matter of great regret to us, but like all community groups we have to take health and safety and other matters into account.

“This was the reason that the park was locked, and temporary signs had to be put up asking people not to use it. I myself fully understand the disappointment and frustration of local parents in relation to that matter, and I have sought to speak to all parents who have raised concerns about this.

"Sometimes, unfortunately, these official developments take time, but I want to assure the parents of the area that we are working with a very solid goal of ensuring that the park is properly upgraded to suit the under five age group, and in the hope that council will place their full support behind it."

She added: "I am a parent of the area myself, and my own two children did have many years of fun in the park when it was in good condition, and I want the same for the parents of young children today.

"I admire the parents who came in and cleaned up the park on their own initiative, and understand that sense of wanting to get something done. I want to work with these parents and others.

"At the same time, there are matters of public liability and council advice that are impossible for me to ignore in my capacity as temporary project co-ordinator for Fountain Street.

"As a parent whose children grew up in the area, I want to say my door is always open and if any residents wish to come and speak to me regarding any concerns they may have I am very happy to oblige. The community group, and myself, are here to work with the community and for the community at all times."


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