One person can make a difference

Tucked away from the bustling streets on Ponsonby Road you will find the tranquil respite of Costley Reserve.

In 2012, local resident and Walk Auckland advocate Andy Smith took me through the reserve highlighting concerns: a treacherous narrow stairwell leading to the park; the overgrowth creating safety issues; the rotting wooden fence and high retaining wall; poor lighting; and the dilapidated and mouldy play equipment. It was clear that the playground and park had been neglected.

There’s only so many times you can duct tape a broom handle before it needs to be replaced. In the case of Costley Reserve it had undergone maintenance work over the years but the visual signs of the ongoing bandages were starting to show. One resident told me how he leaned on the fence and broke it. This wasn’t simply a case of the squeaky wheel getting the oil because when Costley Reserve was ranked against other projects it was a high priority for safety reasons.

The local neighbours on Wood Street and Costley Street rallied behind the need for Costley Reserve to get a do-over. The initial concept design was pulled apart by residents saying that they didn’t want to see a grand design but an affordable and simple solution. The design was scaled back and Auckland Council took the playground design in-house using its own experience and expertise to save on project cost. The Waitemata Local Board approved a renewal budget of $114k and a top-up of $142k through our local improvement budget. This would enable a high-quality urban park for our every growing inner-city population.

The Costley Reserve playground and entrance renewal was officially opened on Saturday 27 June 2015. Unfortunately Andy Smith was unable to attend the opening so we handed the honour of cutting the ribbon to Oliver, one of our youngest residents and playground users.

The revitalised park now boasts safer entrances and a significant re-grading of the slope and footpaths for easier access for prams and wheelchairs. The new wooden play equipment includes a basket swing for children with disabilities, and a fort with climbing ropes, swing-bridge and slide.

Thank you to local residents, Council’s Parks Team, contractors and the Waitemata Local Board for your support. It was John F Kennedy who said “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” In the case of Costley Reserve, we need to thank Andy Smith for his pragmatism and fortitude. Its local leaders like Andy who pick up the reins and make all the difference. (ROB THOMAS, Waitemata Local Board Member)