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Great progress . . . CPlay members (from left) Alice Brice, with Hugo Brice (3), Lynette Wilson, Sarah Mills, chairman Owen Jackson, John Rushton, Timaru district councillor Barbara Gilchrist, Roselyn Fauth holding Annabelle Fauth (2), and Leanne Prendeville celebrate the latest funding boost. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

by Claire Allison

Caroline Bay playground has passed the halfway mark, just four months since plans were officially unveiled.

A $1,029,000 investment from the Timaru District Council, confirmed this week, has boosted the total raised so far to $1.35million of the $2million target.

The council had originally indicated a $50,000 investment, but the CPlay playground committee successfully petitioned at the long-term plan hearings for a more significant contribution.

The boost meant the playground could be installed and operational by July next year, although the committee’s chairman, Owen Jackson, said that was flexible.

“Depending on the generosity of the community, it could be fast-tracked. Once the money is signed, sealed and delivered, it’s only a six-month timeframe.”

The committee has engaged Whanganui firm The Playground Centre to design the destination, inclusive play space that will tell Timaru’s story and allow all children, including those with special needs or disabilities, to play.

Committee member John Rushton said there had been a lot of evolution from the original concept plans.

“It’s far more developed and we’re still engaging with people and getting feedback, but it’s all been positive.”

Mr Rushton said the focus would be on the lighthouse and shipwreck as key focal points, and a transitional area would be developed that would flow between the bike park and the playground, providing an area for large groups to be able to sit comfortably in the shade, and 360-degree views for parents and caregivers supervising children.

The area designed for younger children had been moved away from the paddling pool for safety reasons, and would allow for more scope for future development of the paddling pool area.

Mr Jackson said donations continued to flow in from individuals, organisations and businesses child busking at the Timaru Artisan Farmers Market to donations from service clubs and businesses.

“A lot of people are excited about it. After the whole Covid thing, it’s nice to have some news to look forward to, something positive.

“One thing I think that’s really important is that people are giving because they just want to have a fabulous playground. These are genuine gifts for the benefit of the community, saying they think this is a great thing.”

Mr Jackson said it would be crucial to keep the momentum going.

“We don’t want people to think that just because we have got $1million from the council that all the hard work has been done.

“We’re still relying on the local community to get in behind it. We’re looking for anyone with ideas to fundraise, or contribute to the project, in funds or work in kind.

“We’ve got ourselves to a really good point, but now the hard work begins. The first 80% is usually the easiest; it’s the last 20% that’s tough going.

“We really want the playground to be something that the whole community is super proud of, and everyone’s saying, got to go there!’

“We want the community to get on board, and get in behind it.”