Johnsonville call for youth facilities

Johnsonville call for youth facilities

A playground on Frankmore Ave, that was downsized to make way for Waitohi, the new community hub. PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Moore

A basketball half-court should be built on the car park at Alex Moore Park says the Johnsonville Community Association.

President Simon Pleasants wrote a letter to Wellington City Council highlighting the urgent need for youth recreational facilities.

He met with Northern Councillors Jill Day, Peter Gilberd and Malcom Sparrow and discussed a plan of action last Wednesday, but did not come to any definite conclusions.

Pleasants recommended the council take two immediate actions: replace the half-court and reprioritise the construction of the Johnsonville West playground.

The site of the demolished basketball half-court on Moorefield Road. It made way for Waitohi, the new community hub in Johnsonville. PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Moore

JCA first asked councillors to replace the half-court in 2014. “Years passed, still we have no half-court, no acceptable plan to replace it, and no budget” said Pleasants.

They recommended it be put in part of the Alex Moore Park car park.

“The site is ideal for a half-court; it is accessible, safe, well lit and co-located with other recreational facilities.”

In his letter, Pleasants said St Brigids School was considered the back-up plan, “in the absence of any budget or site.”

In February, it was announced the council planned to pursue the site at St Brigids School. The playground would be open to the community out of school hours.

Pleasants said, “Frustratingly, with no announcement from WCC, the ‘fall-back’ became the policy. This must be reversed.”

“The plan may work in many cases for children, but not for Youth. Unlike Children, Youth may not attend regular school hours; are unlikely to feel at home or welcome on the grounds of a school they don’t attend or never attended; are more likely to be viewed as ‘trouble’; and because they are likely to be outnumbered by children.”

The association identified the proposed playground in Johnsonville West in 2017. The council scheduled it for construction in 2020.The council has since said it will proceed in 2021.

“This delay in engagement and construction is unacceptable. They have kicked the can down the road — we think this could be part of a strategy to delay, delay, delay and then quietly cancel,” said Pleasants.

He said due to smaller, infill housing, children have no-where to play. “These are the sort of homes younger families can afford, but they don’t tend to have enough space to kick a ball, run and play.”

A playground on Frankmore Ave was also downsized for the new community hub and the dedicated youth room was demolished, he said.

Deputy Mayor, Jill Day said “Council has made considerable investment in the community and is continuing to do so.”

She says officers will look into Pleasant’s suggestion of location for the half-court and do not currently have any feedback.

“The suggestion is to use car park space, which means that health and safety of all users will need to be considered amongst a number of other factors.”


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Article by Rachel Moore

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