There’s no age-limit to getting involved in shaping the future of our Shire. Take the vibrant and inclusive new playspace at Cook Street in Mittagong as an example. This recently completed, community-led project was set in motion by the voice of an 8 year old girl with a vision for a better playground for her neighbourhood.
Back in 2017, Melinda Walker-Smith rallied widespread community support to save her local playground when it fell into disrepair. Her call to ‘save our park’ gave rise to plans that re-imagined the playspace as a vibrant, safe, accessible and inclusive outdoor recreation facility for local families.
“The Council at the time removed the existing, unsafe and outdated equipment, but replacing it wasn’t a priority and nothing further was done to improve the dilapidated recreation space,” says Council Administrator Mr Viv May. “Recognising the importance of outdoor recreation spaces like this for the healthy development of children, this Council wasted no time in reaching out to engage the community in planning the playground’s redevelopment into a modern playspace and gathering place.”
The community nominated the re-opening of Cook Street playground as a priority project under WSC’s Playspace Strategy. Adopted in October 2020, the strategy provides a framework for the redevelopment of our Shire’s existing 48 playgrounds to better meet the needs and expectations of community members, now and for the future.
Cook Street Playspace is among four sites to have since been upgraded. Its re-design was developed through extensive community consultation and engagement, to clearly understand what locals wanted.
“As part of consultation, locals were invited to call in at the park site and chat with us about which play equipment options should be used,” says WSC Project Manager Matt Harvey. “Feedback informed the theme which delivered a colourful and inviting playspace for children of all ages and abilities to enjoy with their families.” A well-rounded mix of accessible and inclusive play equipment is balanced with open space and new seating provides a resting and connecting place for locals to gather together.
Council invested $129,000 in the park upgrades. A letter of support from Argyle Housing, who manages 30 properties adjacent to the park, contributed to securing a further $81,000 through the NSW Government’s Everyone Can Play Program. Access-ibility has been improved with the addition of surrounding circuit pathway, safety fencing now borders the adjacent creek, and the play area includes a combination of rubber and natural softfall surfacing.
The project’s completion in June 2023, has brought one local girl’s vision to life, for so many families to share in and enjoy.
For weekly updates on all that’s happening in our Shire, and opportunities to get involved, join Council’s Your Shire e-news wsc.nsw.gov.au/council/newsletters and follow us on socials.