CRAIGAVON council is splashing out almost half a million pounds on children’s play parks across the borough.
Work has already started on the badly vandalised park in Wakehurst and Shankill.
A whopping £94,664 worth of refurbishment is expected to bring the play parks into the 21st century.
Craigavon Council said it has secured funding of £477,777.77 through the Department of Social Development’s Neighbourhood Renewal Scheme to carry out refurbishment work.
Seven play areas are to be rejuvenated. Along with Wakehurst, North Lurgan, Ardowen, Clonmeen, Mourneview, , Ashgrove and Edgarstown will also benefit from the scheme.
“Construction work began at Wakehurst play area on March 25, 2013 with the refurbishment costing £94,664,” said a council spokesperson.
“All existing play equipment will be removed and replaced by modern equipment, a new safety surfacing and higher fencing will also be installed ensuring a modern and safe environment for the young people in the community to enjoy.
“All of the play area refurbishment works are scheduled for completion by the end of June 2013,” said the Council.
Sinn Fein Councillor Mairead O’Dowd welcomed the start of work to the play area at Charles Street which she said catered for children from the wider Wakehurst and Shankill areas.
The Sinn Féin Councillor said,
“This Play Park serves children from a large part of the town and is situated in an area of high social need.
“I was delighted to see that work on this refurbishment has now started and I look forward to seeing the finished article which will be completed in time for the summer holidays.
“This much used play facility had become outdated and the proposed upgrade has been warmly welcomed by the local communities and in particular by the parents of the young children who live in the vicinity.”
Mairead also expressed her thanks to all those involved in bringing this refurbishment about.
She said: “I would like to thank the Lurgan Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership whose approval was needed in order to secure the necessary funding from DSD.
“I would also like to express my appreciation for the hard work by Craigavon Council’s Leisure Department for the work they put into developing this scheme for Play Parks throughout the Borough.”
Community activist and former councillor Maurice Magill who lives in the area welcomed the refurbishment of the Wakehurst play area.
“This facility is a much needed and valued resource for the young people of our community,” he said.
“We pay for these facilities through our rates and it is therefore in our interests that the play area is maintained and used to its full potential.
“If the play area is again vandalised and used for undesirable behaviour, the children of the community may loose this valuable facility,” he said.
Mr Magill said he hoped the young people of the neighbourhood would enjoy the park and that it is maintained to the highest standards.
He warned that if there is recurrent vandalism Craigavon Council may not be able to refurbish it again.