Martin Street Reserve gets new play equipment
Kaiti’s Martin Street Reserve has had a makeover and will be officially opened at a party organised by Kapai Kaiti on Saturday 10 December 2011. The playground in the reserve has been moved so that it's more visible from busy Tyndall Road and the worn out play equipment has been replaced with less traditional options. “The idea was to encourage imaginative and unstructured play”, says Kapai Kaiti chairman, Josh Wharehinga. “We organised a hui at Whakaruruhau kohanga in March with the nearby communities to get a good idea about what parents and caregivers wanted for their local reserve and to involve them in the process.”
Council responded with the help of a Ministry of Justice grant. Now Martin Street Reserve sports a flying fox, high swings, taniwha bars, rolypoly mounds and a long slide. Huge climbing rocks have been donated by Fulton Hogan and placed to encourage jumping and hopping between them.
“It has been a really positive project and the community now feels a real ownership of the reserve. There are children playing at the park every day after school, sometimes on the way to school. I’ve even seen a few family picnics in the park. It’s great!”
The upgrade is part of a larger project by New Zealand Police that uses a unique approach to crime prevention across the city. The street-by-street project involves a number of agencies including the Gisborne District Council who have been involved with planning and environmental health.
Last year a safety audit was carried out that identified a number of issues around the reserve. Council planners were tasked with coming up with a solution to these issues looking to recreational design to enhance the feeling of safety and reduce crime.
One of the most effective ways to make urban areas safer is to improve views and open up sight lines, says Council's urban design planner Duncan Rothwell. “This creates ‘eyes on the street’ which has an immediate affect on behaviour. People are much less likely to commit crimes or create mischief if there is a good chance somebody will be watching them.”
As a result lighting has been upgraded, and plants and shrubs removed. “Neighbours have been really supportive of the project especially around getting trees trimmed that needed attention and closing off a dodgy accessway that wasn’t used for legitimate purposes. The children think the new playground is awesome and it is always well used. The flying fox is a particular hit. Anyone who wants to use it needs to interact with others and take turns."
The project has already proved successful. Police carried out a survey after the lights were installed and the trees trimmed. The results show that neighbours feel that crime has reduced and that residents have an increased sense of community pride.