A pot of more than half a million pounds has been earmarked by councillors to turn Ballymena’s People’s Park into a ‘Destination Park’ before August 2020 when it celebrates its 150th anniversary.
Other funding sources are also being looked at, councillors have been told.
At a council meeting this week councillors noted a report outlining a masterplan for the park.
Precise project proposals and implementation timelines will be developed and brought back to the Council for approval.
The Council report said: ‘The People’s Park remains a central attraction for the people of Ballymena and the wider community and during the recent good weather the park saw an increasing number of people coming to enjoy what the park has to offer.
‘Council recognises the park belongs to the people of the Borough and how much it means to the community.
‘As part of the 150th anniversary of the park elected members made the decision to invest in People’s Park and to create a Destination Park. In addition to the new senior play provision there will be further investment in the play park and a number of other proposals which will all be subject to public consultation are set out below:
The plans include:
* Refurbishment of the toilets including the provision of a changing place facility for severely disabled residents and visitors so that they can fully enjoy all that the park has to offer.
* The ‘Big Lady’ statue re-cast.
* Replacement street furniture and lighting.
* Refurbishment of the old bandstand (from Broadway) and placed within the park for summer band concerts etc.
* New signage and branding to create a warm welcome from all entrance points and interpretation panels throughout to be updated.
* ‘Teen space’.
As well as new play equipment, a ‘Trim Trail’ is to be installed.
The Council report added: ‘A wide range of research has shown the importance of physical exercise in maintaining good physical and mental health. Northern Ireland, in common with other parts of the UK, is facing a number of health crises resulting from inactivity and poor diet.
‘Obesity has grown to epidemic levels and to minimise the occurrence and severity of those diseases associated with obesity Council can play a part in offering facilities which make it easy for people to exercise in an environment which they find non-threatening, comfortable and accessible.
‘The Trim Trail will include a total of 19 wooden fitness stations including Monkey Bars, Chin Ups, Parallel Bars and Log Climber and will offer a safe and healthy fitness option within the park which is suitable for older children and adults but has been specifically designed to get older adults living in the area more active and more engaged with the park and all that it offers,’ the report stated.
Alderman Audrey Wales (DUP) said: “I would welcome the improvements and I would also like to thank our citizens for their patience while the senior play area is being refurbished and look forward to all the other enhancements which are planned and especially the upgrade to our toilet block which is long overdue.”
She also congratulated the team who came up with the idea of the Urban Beach which has been a huge success along with all those other activities which took place and will be taking place throughout the summer.
Cllr Eugene Reid (SDLP) said: “A huge well done to anyone who was involved with the Urban Beach project. The feedback and from people who utilised that and brought their children to that was hugely positive.
“The people of Ballymena have been patient with this but I am glad we are making progress so well done to all involved.”
Deputy Mayor, Cllr Beth Adger (DUP), said she would still like to see a skateboard park being developed at The People’s Park.