A state-of-the-art park that is under construction in the Colin area is on course for completion at the end of June, a local councillor has confirmed.
The £5million project will transform the 17-acre site on the Stewartstown Road into a destination park for locals and visitors of all ages. It will include a play park, pump track, skate ramp, event space, environmental learning zone, wetland habitat and new brightly lit walkways around a section of existing forest.
The facility is being delivered under the Executive Office’s Urban Villages programme in partnership with Belfast City Council and has had input from a range of community projects including the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership. Work on the park had briefly stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic but is on course for completion at the end of June.
Colin Councillor and Safer Neighbourhood Project volunteer, Stephen Magennis, said the project will completely overhaul an area once blighted by anti-social behaviour.
“The site was so dull, very dense, no lighting, and we had a number of issues here with assaults, an attempted rape, there was underage drinking and all that sort of stuff,” he explained.
“We wanted something unique for this area, but not just something that local people can use, but for people from outside the area to come in and use these facilities.
“What we came up with were options to design out anti-social behaviour within this site, but also about what the kids would like and what they need.”
With work ongoing, Cllr Magennis said a number of residents have raised issues around drainage around their properties due to the build.
He said contractors are working to address outstanding issues faced by residents including trimming of trees as well as the planting of shrubbery to give adjacent residents “a bit of privacy”.
“We’ve had issues of antisocial behaviour about this area, but it has been minor – young ones standing about and drinking – but we have been fairly active with the Safer Neighbourhood Project, local police, and CRJ to try to limit that,” he added.
“We’ve also had a lot of youth providers out daily from the start of lockdown who have been proactive. They’ve been engaging with young people to actually explain what they’re going to have on their doorstep and to get them to appreciate it. “We’re also looking to try to engage with them to say ‘when this is finished, this is yours’.”
Looking forward to the opening of the park, Cllr Magennis said: “The big thing for us now is getting it finished and handed over to Council, and then looking at ways and means to get the space utilised.
“We’ve already had soccer clubs on saying they could maybe train here two nights a week, so we’re looking at ways of coordinating that. We’re looking at maybe using it for cinema nights, picnic days and fun days.
“It’s about kids being seen on it because once it’s built we want everybody to respect it – that’s the key.”