The team behind a project set up to bring a new play park facility to Rothesay has explained the history and the future of the facility ahead of its official opening later this month.
Nicola Jones from Project Play Park contacted The Buteman after some concerns were raised on our Facebook page about the site, cost and need for the facility - which has received a total of £139,000 in National Lottery funding - following our report that the park, next to Rothesay Leisure Pool in the town’s High Street, would open on Sunday, May 18.
Nicola’s statement on behalf of the Project Play Park team reads, in full, as follows.
“When we set up Project Play Park in 2010 the intention was to upgrade the old park since it was dated, becoming dangerous and the children of Bute deserved a challenging new park to play in. We produced drawings for the old park [next to Bute Shinty Club] but quickly found that it was in an area prone to flooding. The result was that the Lottery would not fund a refurbishment of this site.
“We ran the kiosk for a year but when we went for a second year lease we discovered that the shinty club owned the lease to the kiosk and tennis courts, not the council, and we would not get the lease again.
“We looked at several alternative sites and discussed all options with the council and the Lottery. The final location is the only location that met the criteria of the council and the Lottery so we had no choice but to site it there. The site benefits from having access to toilets at the swimming pool, car parking and is well lit and safe for children.
“The legally binding agreement that we have with the council about the park maintenance and insurance is common practice and one the Lottery recognises as effective partnership working. With these legal, professional agreements in place, and effective community and council partnership working, the Lottery are happier to give large grants as they are content that all areas of build, maintenance, insurance, ownership and community are covered and all paperwork is in place and everyone knows their responsibilities.”
“Getting the funding wasn’t easy. We applied for the first round and out of the 84 applicants, 50 were invited to submit a second stage application. We also managed to secure almost £10,000 to cover all the development costs (architect fees, ground surveys, planning permissions, etc).
“For the second stage application we had to produce an options appraisal, scope of parks, feasibility study, to name but a few documents along with the completed application. Less than 30 groups were successful in being awarded the funding.
“We worked day and night and got all the complex applications in on time, we handed the documents in by hand to the Lottery so we knew it was received on time and everything was completed.”
“We spent hours and hours researching equipment for the park. We wanted all ages and abilities to have something suitable and challenging to play on that was inclusive to all. We put out tenders for park suppliers to give us designs and we finalised with Wicksteed who have given us this stunning design.
“We have managed to get a great selection of the equipment available. We have: swings suitable for all age groups; a basket swing for all abilities; two roundabouts also suitable for all abilities; a large toddlers climbing frame; a large rope tower; a challenge trail; a basketball hoop; two roller drums and a fantastic outdoor gym for the adults. There is an open area in the park that can have more equipment built into it in time if the community wish it and fundraise for items.
“One of the other reasons the Lottery loved our plans for the park is that we thought of all ages and abilities. We created a space where young and old can come together as a community and that was one of the big reasons we got funded for the park.
“They were also very impressed that we had done a year of community working at the kiosk and ran a small fairy and elf day and we worked with the community at all times, asking what they wanted to see happen in the park for the youth. We set up a Facebook page that gave everyone the chance to have their say on the project.”
What will happen to the old play park?
“The old park will be dismantled very soon. Thanks to the efforts of the council this park was given a stay of execution until the new park was completed.”
The opening event
“On the back of our main grant, we applied for and received £10,000 to buy festival equipment such as marquees, tables, chairs and a storage trailer so we now have festival equipment infrastructure to run family festival events in the park as Project Play Park. We are required by the Lottery to do this as part of the agreement for giving us the money to build the park.
“With this money, some of what we applied for is for the grand opening and we will then have equipment to host other events in the park over the coming years.
“We are working with: Bute Street Theatre who own the costume mascots; The Brianne Roberts Trust who own the fairground fun equipment; and all other groups who wish to partner up with us to bring family events to the park.
“We are bound by the restrictions of the original funding for the park to host and create family events. This is one of the stipulations to the grant. We have done all we have been asked by the Lottery and they are very happy with what we have achieved.”
Advertising of the park
“We will be putting a banner at the pier with directions of where the park is. We will promote the park on the Visit Bute web site under family activities and things to do. We will put posters up in the tourist information office and around the town. We will share the park posts on Facebook. And we hope everyone will help share the park too.
“This is a fantastic addition to the play facilities for children and families in Bute.”
The opening event on May 18 will run from 11am to 4pm, with the official ribbon-cutting taking place at 2.30pm.