Former independent candidate for Ginninderra Vanessa Jones has called on the ACT Government to make basic improvements to a local playground in Higgins that features only a non-functioning bubbler and a swingset.
Ms Jones reckons it’s about time the ACT Government showed some love to the suburb of Higgins, an affordable suburb that is home to many young families living in older homes on larger blocks.
“I took some photos of my local area playground, in Hudson Street, Higgins,” Ms Jones wrote on Facebook this week.
“There is no longer a working water bubbler. This is what we get, in a seat where we have 3 out of 5 politicians as Labor. People say Canberra is one of the best cities in the world … Ummm.
“How about a working water bubbler, a picnic table and a slippery dip? There are many new families in this area, with young kids. If we can fund 2 tram lines, well, can we improve on this?”
Ms Jones said a local quality playground was a great social place for children and adults, and provided a space for healthy physical activity for kids of all ages.
“Surely, quality playgrounds have a value, in various ways?” she said.
“I was just chatting with a Higgins man about his attempt to improve a local playground. He contacted a Labor politician, who did not help him out. We share an area, and I’d like that playground upgraded too.
She says she once asked about improving this other playground, and was told that the ACT Government can’t afford to maintain each Canberra playground.
Ms Jones asked readers of her Facebook page, Canberra Ideas with Vanessa Jones, what they felt Higgins needed and received the following suggestions:
“Water park, BBQ park with bike or skate park, exercise circuit area in parks like at John Knight memorial park at Ginninderra. Flying fox, better paths, especially at the round about near Kingsford-Smith school crossing from Starke.”
“Replace the ageing street trees that are being removed, to keep our suburb leafy green, which improves values and liveability. I second the play space, and lovely big nature based playground would be amazing.”
One reader, David Green, posted a copy of a letter he’d sent to Ginninderra MLA and Deputy Labor Leader Yvette Berry:
Hello Ms Berry,
Thank you for your time. I have met and spoken to you on a number of occasions in the past at the Higgins shops and at our residence when you called in about 3 years ago.
Just writing to let you know that the playground park (if you can called it that) in the Higgins suburb just 90 metres from our home at 21 Fullagar Crescent and between Hudson and Brazel streets is very poor and neglected and has been so for years (see pics and location map). We have lived here for 28 years and nothing has been improved in the park, only equipment has been taken away now leaving just one swing set. I know you live in the vicinity and would be aware of the park.
The park contains one set of single swings, a broken and out of date bubbler and one bench seat and no lighting. It used to have steel climbing cube but that was removed many years ago.
I would like to lobby and propose to request that the park be upgraded with a new array of swings, sea saw, climbing castle with slippery slide etc with appropriate soft rubber surface for safety and appropriate lighting to bring it up to standard like all new suburbs and other older suburbs that have had their playground parks across Canberra updated and provided with new and modern fixtures.
I’m sorry but we pay taxes and rates and believe that it is way overdue for the park to be updated.
We have 4 grandchildren 2 of whom live nearby to the park and who visit regularly and there are many other young families with children in the area who would make use of the park if it had modern and updated equipment.
At the moment it is a disgrace and an eyesore.
Having a modern and up to date park invokes a community spirit to be proud of.
Can you please forward this letter to its appropriate area to have the park seriously considered for a revamp.
Another reader wondered whether Ms Jones knew about the ACT Government’s announcement last November that three parks had been selected as winners in the ACT Craft Your Park competition.
Three teams of landscape architects will design and construct natural play spaces for Canberra’s children in each of the parks respectively.
Natural play spaces incorporate elements from the landscape such as sand, trees and rocks encouraging children to climb, jump, explore and have fun.
The selected teams with their parks are:
Finn Street in O’Connor – Spacelab, Glascott Landscape and Civil, and Provincial Plants and Landscapes
Telopea Park in Barton – Group GSA, Cia Landscapes and Colour, and Ric McConaghy
Tuggeranong Town Park in Greenway – Harris Hobbs Landscapes, Area Design Consultants, Brindabella Contractors Pty Ltd, Nicholas Bray Landscapes and Geoff Filmer.
Each team is to receive $100,000 for the design, community engagement and construction of their natural play space.
Designs for the natural play spaces will be available online soon at www.tccs.act.gov.au with works to start by mid-2017.
Here are Ms Jones’ “high hopes” for her home suburb of Higgins:
1. Weekend blue rapid buses every 15 minutes from Belconnen to Kippax. The blue rapid buses go on Southern Cross Drive on weekdays, so the normal route is alongside Higgins.
2. Bus shelters on Castieau and Fullagar streets in Higgins. I have had good news on my request for these bus shelters, and I am waiting for the building to happen, for 2 bus shelters – baby steps. We live in hope. Where do you need bus shelters in Higgins?
3. Fix up and improve Hudson St, Higgins playground – get the water bubbler working, have a picnic table, slippery dip and anything else kids would enjoy. Maybe put in a rubbish bin? Get kids active and healthy, and provide free, healthy activities for local families.
4. Put one of the new water fountains at Higgins shops, like the one at Cook shops. I am sure the elderly at the new nursing home will appreciate a top level water fountain at the shops.
5. Fix up the cracked and broken footpaths on main roads in Higgins, especially Fullagar Cres, Higgins. People walk there. We don’t have many footpaths in Higgins, most Higgins streets have no footpaths at all, so fix up what we have.
6. Build a playground, bike track, benches, bbqs, picnic huts and indoor pool on Higgins oval, below the old Higgins school site. Fund safe Labor areas, give families affordable, healthy lifestyle options.
What else does Higgins need? What does your suburb need? Are you happy with the state of your local playground? What would you like to see added or repaired? Or is there no playground near where you live? Let us know in the comments.
Pictured is the playground at Hudson St, Higgins. Photos: Vanessa Jones