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Full swing . . . Waitaki District Council parks officer Jane Matchett says the Oamaru Public Gardens playground upgrade will be an interactive water and sand area, replicating the Waitaki lakes system. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

A sizeable grant from the Otago Community Trust is a big step towards funding an upgrade for the Oamaru Public Gardens playground.

The trust would contribute $56,000 towards the first step of the project, which it was anticipated would cost $280,000, Waitaki District Council parks officer Jane Matchett said.

This project budget was more than initially anticipated, but the plans had “grown a bit”, she said.

The first stage in the upgrade was to replace the paddling pools, which were dated and had leakage and safety issues, with an interactive water and sand play feature.

A new swing set would also be erected in a different location to create space for the upgrade.

Concept plans, drawn up by local artist Dugal Armour, showed an area which would be “representative of the Waitaki lakes system”, Mrs Matchett said.

There would be water damming activities in line with where the actual Waitaki dams were. The water would not be sitting as a pool all the time, but would be dependent on children pushing buttons to make it flow.

The sand would offer itsown “sense of discovery”, with fossils buried within the area.

She said the upgrade would be “inclusive and engaging”, providing a hands-on education on the “dynamics of water”.

“It will hopefully facilitate play for all ages and abilities.”

Various people had offered goods and services towards the project, which Mrs Matchett wanted to acknowledge and said would be taken up when the build was ready to go ahead.

The council had allocated $150,000 towards the water feature, and another $60,000 for the proposed new swings in a new location. Oamaru Rotary Club had also donated $15,000.

A further $57,000 was needed before construction could begin, and any donations would be gratefully accepted, Mrs Matchett said.

Another new playground opened in Oamaru this week at Waiareka Park, in Weston Rd.

“Not only do we have a great new park and playground for our community, we have been able to use local contractors to help build it,” Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said.

“I know local kids will be keen to get stuck into the new play equipment, and their parents are looking forward to having a new place to visit.”