Playground Strategy

almost 2 years ago
This discussion has concluded. The discussion and survey on this topic was robust with a range of ideas put forward. These were all considered by Council’s Parks and Recreation Team and Councillors when drafting the Playground Strategy 2016-2036. The draft strategy has just been through the formal public exhibition process and will be considered for adoption by Council at the February 2016 Council Meeting.

Wagga Wagga City Council is developing a strategy that will provide guidance on the future development and maintenance of playgrounds.

Council currently maintains 92 playgrounds in the Wagga Wagga Local Government Area, at a cost of $50,750 a year. The budget for the renewal of old playgrounds is currently $163,909 per year.

Consultation with the community to date has shown that quality playgrounds are preferred over the quantity.

Many families are going past small local playgrounds to larger sites because the smaller playgrounds are not meeting the expectations of the children and because there is more support infrastructure at the bigger sites to cater for caregivers.

This is where The People's Panel comes in...

  • What is your experience with playgrounds in Wagga Wagga? 
  • Would you support the removal of some small playgrounds if it means better quality playgrounds can be built and maintained elsewhere? 
  • What could Council do to improve your experience with public playgrounds?

This topic is open for discussion until 9am Monday 23 March. Please also take the time to complete the accompanying survey on this topic.

  • wes_fang almost 4 years ago
    I think smaller playgrounds are still an important part of life in the suburbs. We often use the small park around the corner from our house on the roundabout on Hardy Avenue (near Calvary Hospital)... though because it is often very dirty, it does not get used as much as it might it was better maintained. Walking/riding to the park is as much fun for my children as the park itself. If they are widely spaced, this becomes hard for those in the middle. I think that is the key... keep them well maintained and they will get more use.I would like to see more planned in the growing areas (Estella and Tatton etc.).
  • jtinkler almost 4 years ago
    In response to a comment below, I am wondering about the possibility of having some playground spaces for adults - in this case the elderly. I'm not sure how playgrounds might access different sources of funding, but it might be a way of increasing funding for recreational spaces as well - without having to resort to private corporations - not a good option. http://sourceable.net/senior-playgrounds-and-universal-design/
    Hide reply (1)
  • Ann123 almost 4 years ago
    I'd also like to note the importance of playgrounds for other people (ie not just children), especially the older community. Many other countries around the world combine the childrens playground with basic gym equipment - it is a great way to stimulate the community spirit - get people out of their homes to a place within walking distance to meet and exercise together. Its a great concept!
    Hide reply (1)
    • jtinkler almost 4 years ago
      To have some adult space as you suggest would be great. Some gym gear, and places for the elderly. I'm not sure what the research is about outdoor spaces for the elderly, but it would be worth looking into. I did find this: http://sourceable.net/senior-playgrounds-and-universal-design/
  • Saba Nabi about 4 years ago
    In my opinion,small playgrounds should be kept because the kids can just walk there and enjoy the fresh air.By changing the location in quest of bigger or better playgrounds will have an impact on the sustainability issues too because I am sure we would be using our cars or local transport to reach the newly build playgrounds. In my opinion ,we should emphasize and modernize the one we have instead of looking at some other venues.I have a suggestion,why don't we look for the sponsorships - recently new businesses are looking for better exposure- we can ask the new business to contribute towards a Playground and in return their business will be publicized as a Sponsor or Maintainer of this Playground-Seems silly but worth a thought :)To be honest in my opinion, I still find some Playgrounds which are closer to CBD are better looked after,maintained regularly as compared to the ones not closer to CBD I feel Council is doing enough but a few benches,regular cutting the grass (leads to health hazards/complications),a tap for drinking water,shade (need not be a big but good for the infants,toddlers,elders for relaxation), accessibility to toilets, automatic lighting in the dark (may be we use the solar lights-will set up a good example for others) will add grace to each playground because playgrounds are not only for kids but for elderly too who after an morning/evening stroll want to sit a bit,relax & admire the natural beauty of the place where we live.Playgrounds should be modelled in a way that it teaches the whole family the concept of green living, eco-friendly and sustainable in the real sense.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • Wagga Women's Health Centre about 4 years ago
      I support most of the ideas expressed here but I have concerns about sponsorship. Firstly it's time consuming and many businesses would want to see some sort of benefit and the second concern is about exposing children to yet more advertising. Admittedly, most will ne too young to read but it is nonetheless exposure.
      Hide Replies (2)
      • prangnr almost 4 years ago
        I also have concerns about advertising. Parks and playgrounds (at least those in parks) are some of the few remaining havens without advertising. Also the bigger franchises would dominate the smaller business.Just have a look at some of the bus shelters. The poets work in some of them is hard to see because ads dominate.
        Hide reply (1)
        • jtinkler almost 4 years ago
          Please, have some public space free of advertising! Especially for children - they have the rest of the world for that.
  • sue1968 almost 4 years ago
    We are in a small outlying village and we love our local playground. this area is used weekly by our local Kids Club, monthly by our local Rural Fire service at their family BBQ and movie nights and on a regular bases by local children. We have recently upgraded the amenities blocks and improved the lighting and are in the process of painting a mural with the local children to give them more ownership of the area. We also have shade trees and bench seating (built by our community) and we fundraised for a huge shade sail over the whole area. The key to maintaining interest in these facilities is the involvement of those who live in the area, a little bit of interest and making sure that the area is well maintained makes a small playground a huge asset to the local area.
  • soilman almost 4 years ago
    The two classes of playground perform different functions. The small local playground (mainly it appears in the older suburbs) is a suburb-based resource that serves the people of that area. Local, unaccompanied children and/or parents with strollers usually walk to these locations where they provide an important local facility. The larger playgrounds, such as at the Botanic Gardens or Lake Albert, are used more by family groups who drive there to BBQ/picnic and play in the park and use the playground. In those situations they drive past their small, local playground to visit the larger one. So removal of the many smaller ones is not compensated by the growth of a few larger playgrounds; they complement each other rather than compete with each other.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Graham J almost 4 years ago
      I can see your point Soilman but I cannot see any value in having small, barren playgrounds that are not inducive to people using them, just for the sake of having them there. I agree there is a need for neighbourhood playgrounds but having four dust bowls within half a kilometre of each other is I think a bit of overkill. I think one well maintained grassed and shady park with playground would encourage much more use.
  • matt_2 about 4 years ago
    One of the biggest issues I see with the smaller Wagga parks is the lack of shade which makes them unusable for much of the day from October to March. Big deciduous trees planted on the Eastern and Western sides of the playground areas would help this once the trees are established.
    Hide reply (1)
    • lwsbas almost 4 years ago
      Audrey BYes, in this country without adequate shade, year round, regardless of the play equipment, seating etc. a playground is virtually useless.
  • Nadine almost 4 years ago
    I think it is good with such limited funding to think more about the benefit of ongoing usability in terms of allocation of expenditure. I don't believe removing smaller playgrounds just to maintain large ones is an overall benefit for the wider community, as small parks play a strong role in community building, helping new mothers connect with their community within walking distance (and get out of the house!) and encouraging kids to play outside and within their community. Although your questions point towards wanting us to agree to removing playgrounds to solve the funding issue, it may be more about how can the smaller areas be affordably designed and then maintained as an activated play space, while the larger areas serve as destination places for families (and also have a role to play in the attraction, tourism, visitor market - different funding bucket perhaps?). For me as a parent, I don't believe putting money towards dinky plastic playground equipment in small local playgrounds is a solid return on investment for Council or for the children playing on them. In the smaller parks they tend to be catalogue purchased slippery dip-swing-climber sets that encourage limited imaginative play, hold interest of the children for limited amounts of time and look tired very quickly requiring replacement. To better serve the small local playgrounds, design of playground equipment (and the allocation of the limited funding) should move on from the catalogue, pre-built type arrangement and refocus into landscape design - for example dips and mounds in grass for rolling down, climbing equipment made from materials and equipment that also serve the purpose of providing visual interest to visitors to the park as a whole and a stronger community connection, planted areas for hiding/climbing. If budget is tight, think smarter about what a "playground" can be rather than what the scheduled purchase of equipment from a preferred supplier dictates. I offer this point of view because through many years of visiting my local playground with my child I watched the children play for a short burst on the (brand new) plastic garishly coloured equipment, and then spend more time climbing on an old war relic, running through and around a hedged garden and climbing the trees - and even better they interacted with one another better when doing this. It changed my view on what a great playground is - kids will love a decent set of swings and a slippery dip whether they are basic metal poles or brightly coloured and overly complicated. I also strongly agree with the other comments that a key component to ensuring a space is used is making sure the seating, shade and viewing areas are considered.
    Hide Replies (3)
    • Mummybarron almost 4 years ago
      I like your thoughts Nadine. Well said.
    • timklapdor almost 4 years ago
      I agree with Nadine - a "playground" should be seen as more than just some purchased play equipment. Using landscaping and some pretty low tech options smaller parks could be revitalised into really viable and vibrant places. Often the low tech solutions inspire what most parents really want - play! Give them a track to run around, hills to roll down, a bridge to climb over - you'll find most kids wont miss the slides or swings. You could mark out a field, or some makeshift goal posts, a slab of concrete with a line down the middle and let kids find ways of playing - rather than constructing it for them. I think the commercial style playgrounds still have a place - and they warrant the investment when done to scale. But if you need to spread the money to thin then a set of lonely swings might not be the best way to spend the budget.
    • jmiegel2 almost 4 years ago
      I agree. In our community park we have mounds for rolling on, a path for bikes or scooters and a basketball net and mini court. We built them all ourselves. We also have equipment which was supplied by council and I have to say the swing in particular is a big drawcard particularly for our community members with children who have mobility difficulties (it is one of those flat, round swings you can place a child in laying down). We have added colour to our park with the addition of artwork in the form of a mural which was produced by the local school, funded with a council grant and the residents assoc. I really like the new elements that have been added to the play area at the wagga beach, the bridge and music elements and the landscaping. These things would be great in smaller community parks too.
  • Mummybarron almost 4 years ago
    In my area we have at least three small parks. I very rarely if ever see anybody in them. However, I do see people that live in my area travel to the skate park area at Henwood Park. The parks in our area are well kept and well maintained. I go past them on regular occasions. I use them only when my god children are over. I have to wonder if these are value for money? I acknowledge the fact that many people would like to see their local parks kept and maybe updated, I wonder what the use of these parks really is? Is there anyway for us to do a usage analysis of the smaller parks so that it isn't just nostalgia but actual value for money that can be considered in this discussion.
  • Terry Cominos about 4 years ago
    Slightly confused here. What is the definition of a playground? To me a playground and a park are different types of facilities which may co-exist. I take it we are discussing playgrounds which are specially set-up with playground equipment and facilities, not necessarily parks.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Admin Commented Wagga Council almost 4 years ago
      Hi Terry,You are correct. This discussion is about playgrounds, which includes play equipment (swings, slides, climbers, rockers etc), softfall, edging, shade (trees or sails) and any furniture that is there to directly support the playground.Therefore the phasing out of a small playground would in most cases not mean the whole park would be removed. Regards,The People's Panel Team
  • sshamsi almost 4 years ago
    No doubt that quality is important specially when it comes to children however I think special attention should be paid when deciding to remove some small playgrounds in order to reduce the cost. There are parents with disabilities, or other conditions that largely rely on some of these small playgrounds to entertain their children or grandchildren; for various reasons they are not able to manage to take kids to bigger playgrounds. In addition taking kids away from TV, computer games and so on and encourage them to do some outdoor activities in local small playgrounds is much easier and does not need prior planning.
  • jmiegel2 about 4 years ago
    I like having a park within walking distance, is accessible to all and is widely used by local children and many wider community members. I am a member of the local residents association and we were actively involved in the construction of our park with council staff working in collaboration with the local school and local children. Because the kids were involved they have a sense of ownership and we have little vandalism and engaged kids who look after their own space. We also maintain it. We have a local mowing, another watering and we have a community gardening group of local kids growing vegies. Perhaps this can be a model for other smaller parks. Small community groups who look after their own space (funded by councils and fundraising). Promotes engagement and sustainability.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Laurie about 4 years ago
      As a member of the North Wagga Residents Assoc . I agree with Jen . We are very proud of our park and community involvement . My view is to keep the smaller parks and keep adding to them to keep the local community interested in maintaining them . We have a project called ART IN THE PARK where local kids have painted a mural which is in a prominent position at the park and more art projects will be added to this area .
  • SueBeth about 4 years ago
    I like the smaller playgrounds, although the big ones have their place. Surely though, if you just have big ones, they will be really busy if the number of parks will be reduced overall. I would like the smaller ones to stay in each suburb because they are within walking distance for most people.
  • MTS28 about 4 years ago
    I believe a range of parks - small and large - in as many locations is possible is preferable to just a few well-equipped parks - although these are great fun for largr/older groups. Smaller parks can be just as intriguing and exciting as larger ones, and provide a wonderful meeting place for truly 'local' people - children, teens and adults who live (usually) walking distance from those parks. Plants (including flowers and herbs) and trees - natives or introduced species - will provide shade and an environmental connection for users. Drinking water and plenty of seating/tables (protected from the weather, both rain and sun) are both 'musts' - there should be no reason not to stop at the park, just because it is raining. Parks can be lovely restful places for those out for a stroll or want a peaceful place to read - or a place to refill the water bottle/take a break while exercising.It would be great to include community gardens, so young people can actively help and see things grow - and it would encourage return visitors. While fencing the entire area may not be preferable, perhaps provide one section that is appropriately fenced, to allow toddlers to play safely inside, and carers to have a rest also without constant vigilance for wandering/running children.Perhaps Council could also engage local teenagers more in the upkeep of the parks (Duke of Edinburgh activity?), or provide 'graffiti walls' where they can come and paint (appropriately), thereby providing constantly updated murals, and another reason for users to return. Or perhaps a register or 'honour roll' of members of the community who take an active interest in their local park - perhaps by spraying/removing weeds; advising of damage or unsafe areas; garden tending in general? This helps Council maintain the parks and also provides emotional investment in the beauty and practicality of the environment .
  • matt_2 about 4 years ago
    A problem with playgrounds is vandalism and the attraction for youth to hang around them at night. A good idea would be to fence off playgrounds with usable hours only sunrise to sunset. They wouldn't need to be actively locked, but where people are using them outside the allowed times, police can request they move away from the area.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • CurtisM about 4 years ago
      I think this is a waste of money, Police can tell people to move on without a fence.
    • Matt D about 4 years ago
      Vandalism is a problem - but I wouldn't agree with the idea of fencing them off, As son as you fence the area off, it becomes 'forbidden', and an even greater target for vandalism of the type you're trying to avoid.
  • CurtisM about 4 years ago
    I think that generally smaller parks should be kept. We recently bought a house partly because it was close to a small park. Our children play over there most days, and they have also provided a place to get to know other community members. I see that the costs are indicated for maintaining and renewing playgrounds, could you also add the cost of removing them so our comments are better informed.
    Hide reply (1)
    • Admin Commented Wagga Council about 4 years ago
      Hi CurtisM, The cost of removing a playground is $1000 to $2000.Regards,The People's Panel team
  • WaggaLady about 4 years ago
    GREAT to see the Council looking after the parks so well. Quite challenge with the rain and new grass. Th e arks don't have to be fancy.We love the re vamped Park on Oleander and Telopea Cr.Lake Albert. Always kids there enjoying with the parents. Sometime a few cars prked thre too. A tap for ater, cricket pitch.basket ball hoop & goal post too.Plenty of trees for hide n seek.
  • Milliemay about 4 years ago
    We need to keep the smaller parks but they need to have good shade trees, grass that is watered and mowed and Karkee (forgive my spelling of this weed) got rid of out of the lawns as it is starting to take over some small parks, it is spiky and kids can't take their shoes off and run around. I would also like to see some more parks with a mini basket ball ring and small area of concrete for mini games to be played on, I have seen young teenagers using this regularly. Have a nice park and kids will make their own fun.
  • matt_2 about 4 years ago
    I wouldn't like to see the removal of smaller playgrounds. If they are removed then people will need to always drive their children to go and play at a park. It is great to be able to walk down to your local park even if there is only a set of two swings there.
    Hide Replies (2)
    • Gordon about 4 years ago
      I agree. My children (30 years ago) used the small playground down the street regularly. Being within walking distance along a quiet street, they were able to go there with friends and did not have to rely on their parents to take them and stay with them while they played. This playground only had some climbing frames, not even swings, but they enjoyed it none the less. The grass was mown regularly and there were trees to provide shade.
      Hide reply (1)
      • jmiegel2 about 4 years ago
        I agree with you too. When my kids were little I would meet at the bigger parks with girlfriends and their kids. Our kids would play in the trees and the shrubbery and hardly with the equipment. It may be more about having a green space and people there that you know. Which would be a vote in favour for local parks within communities.
  • WendyH about 4 years ago
    As a parent of two children, I find parks with a variety of activities for different age groups is attractive. I notice a trend in other towns of providing equipment that is accessible for a range of abilities.Some major points that would make a difference to my park usage (as someone who lives outside of suburban Wagga) are:-good shade-accessible parking-toilets close by (across the road is just not suitable for toddlers who need to go *now*)-a fence surrounding the equipment, but with room inside for picnic rugs or tablesAt the moment, our favourite parks in town are the ones at the Botanic Gardens, at Apex Park, and near the tennis courts on Sunshine Ave. The Victory Memorial Gardens location is more accessible for us, particularly when we go to Storytime at the Library, but the equipment is old and faulty, and the lack of fencing and toilet facilities is a major drawback.