BEACH days are almost upon us as Ballymena’s urban beach prepares to open its huts to the public this week.
No need to head to the coast when you have the beach right on your doorstep.
Dust off those flip flops, grab your favourite beach towel and find your perfect spot on the beach in People’s Park, Ballymena.
Build sandcastles in the sunshine and feel the sand between your toes at a special launch event from 1pm on July 6 right through to the end of August.
This project is part of Mid & East Antrim’s £3m Local Authority Action Plan, which is financed through the EU’s PEACE IV Programme.
This EU programme is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding for the Councils’ Action Plan has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department for Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
The urban beach has been designed by award winning designer Ian Price. His quirky design will accommodate a number of community activities.
There will be an area that has plenty of space for laying out the beach towels, a dedicated sand sculpture section, and a jetty style promenade.
The main feature of the urban beach will be a lighthouse, which is something that Ballymena residents will not be used to seeing in the People’s Park.
The space will also be used to host a number of activities for all the family to enjoy.
These include an outdoor cinema, music, entertainment, beach fun, pop-up play, sand sculptures, seashell stories and beach Olympics.
Running alongside the Urban Beach this summer will be an activity programme for teens relating to the outdoors.
A report prepared for councillors ahead of their main July monthly meeting said the urban beach ‘is costing £30,000’ which was fully-funded by the PEACE programme.
The report said events to be held at the beach included sandcastle building competitions, Punch and Judy shows, Knobbly Knee contests, outdoor cinema and pilates.
Meanwhile, the Council report shows there could be a delay in re-opening the senior play area at the People’s Park where the central multi-play unit has been closed since last November because of, according to the report, ‘structural instability and significant rot’.
The report shows replacement costs for the large play unit of £120,000 were approved by the council earlier this year to allow for a ‘more inclusive’ piece of equipment which would also mean the ‘partial re-opening’ of the senior play area.
The report said a contractor had reported a delay in receiving the play equipment which is on order from the United States.
The report said: ‘This is a manufacturer and shipping delay which Council Officers are seeking to expedite.
‘The delay could mean the project is not due to complete on site until 20 September 2019. Whilst this is very disappointing, it is outside the control of Council.’
Council Chief Executive Anne Donaghy told the monthly meeting she was disappointed with the delay regarding the senior play park.
She said she had instructed staff to develop an enhanced plan of activity to “in some way compensate those older kids”.
She said £25,000 was also secured to install a walk which will be in by the end of July.
Councillors Audrey Wales, Councillor Timothy Gaston and Councillor Eugene Reid said they were disappointed about the delay in getting the equipment.
Anne Donaghy said there were plans to invest £1million in the People’s Park to mark the 150th anniversary.