FRIDAY saw the highly anticipated opening of a new state-of-the-art playground in the Falls Park.
The play facilities, which opened in time for the Bank Holiday weekend, represent a £200,000 investment from Belfast City Council.
With work now completed, the significantly expanded playpark has been furnished with equipment for children of all ages including several new climbing frames, slides, swings and sensory equipment.
Welcoming the opening of the playpark, Sinn Féin Councillor Steven Corr said the community feedback about the facility has been “unbelievable”.
“People are just overwhelmed when they come and see the size of it,” he enthused. “The actual footprint of it has been doubled in size, but we’ve also doubled the grass area because we know that kids want to run about the grass as well, so it’s a safe play area.
Back For Good! Delighted to start an E-Bike programme with our friends from St Gall"s GAA Club. We had a lovely morning in Falls Park. Looking forward to more fun next week. Lean ar aghaidh! @belfastcc @FailteFeirste @publichealthni #BCAT pic.twitter.com/dZnf9mUF6a— Sustrans NI (@SustransNI) May 4, 2021
“It’s a top-grade playpark for our young people and for families in West Belfast to take their young children in and to spend the day. There has been major investment in the Falls Park, we got benches in the other week, the playpark, the new pitch at the back – there are millions of pounds that have gone into this site and the City Cemetery over the past number of years and we’ll continue to do that.
“We’ve fought long and hard to get this kind of investment into this part of the city, and we would appeal to people to enjoy it and respect it.”
In what is a first for West Belfast, the park also has a new wheelchair-friendly roundabout which has transformed the park for children with disabilities.
“One family in particular have contacted me a number of times over the years and said that whenever their son came into the park he had nowhere to go,” Cllr Corr said.
“They couldn’t believe how good the new park is. The child was overwhelmed. His name is Billy and he wants to call it Billy’s Roundabout. The mother sent me a video, and he loved it. If he wants to call it Billy’s Roundabout, we’ll call it Billy’s Roundabout as well.”
While the playpark’s predecessor had been the target of vandals, Cllr Corr urged families to take ownership of the facility to help deter any destruction.
“The day we stop investment is the day we give up,” he said. “It’s that broken window effect – if there is damage done you have to repair it. You have to let it be known that no matter what happens you’ll keep repairing and keep coming back, and this playpark is now back bigger and better than ever.
“The Falls Park is at its safest when it’s busy and we just want families to know that it’s open until nine o’clock every night, there’s plenty of safe parking, and we’re now going to be looking at new lighting, so hopefully we’ll have that in by the end of this year.”