Chris Ison

Council looks to cut playgounds

CLARENCE Valley Council will consider a plan to remove 21 community playgrounds because they are too costly to maintain and boring to use.

Today's council Corporate, Governance and Works Committee meeting will consider a proposal to slash the number of its playgrounds from 58 to 37.

Council maintains 62 playgrounds, but four of these are not fully accessible to the public because they are inside other facilities.

The draft Playground Management Policy and Asset Management Plan Scenario 2 Version 1 has been prepared by consultants Kico for the council.

The consultants also prepared a Scenario 1 version of the plan where council kept all its current playgrounds operational.

Council staff has recommended the Scenario 2 version as the best value for money approach as well as upgrading the play experience of the parks in the region.

It aims to create a hierarchy of parks to provide a greater variety of play experiences for users.

The report found of the 58 parks in the Valley all but one provided what it called a 'local' level of play experience.

The council staff report noted there is anecdotal evidence children become bored with small playgrounds.

It said maintaining may smaller units limited the range of play experience and was ultimately less economical than providing a larger, centrally located playground.

"The lack of diversity reduces hold time, skills learnt and development of children and creates boredom leading to antisocial behaviour and possible malicious damage," the report said.

In summary the Scenario 2 report considers:

 maintaining the existing capital ($87,000) and maintenance budgets ($143,000).

 reducing the number of assets from 58 to 37.

 implementing a new hierarchy of facilities: 22 local, 14 district and 1 regional.

 modifying replacement costs to reflect the new hierarchy: local 1=$20,000, local 2=$70,000, district=$140,000, regional=$280,000.

The bottom line for council is the Scenario 2 plan leaves council to fund an additional $148,000 a year on average compared to $268,000 a year to keep the current assets.

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