Generous donations help with Porritt Park upgrade 09 November 2016 Donations from the Rotary Club of Thames and Smart Environmental (our Parks and Reserves maintenance contractor) are paying for two important pieces of the Porritt Park playground upgrade that are being installed this week, which have a total value of $25,000. (The diagram shows the shaded area to the right of centre where the new equipment is being installed.) A $5,000 donation the Rotary Club of Thames is paying for a new drinking fountain to be installed behind the new toilet block that will be accessible for children and people with disabilities. Smart Environmental is donating the cost of a piece of playground equipment: a Kompan climbing shifter (also known as a climby shifter) - a leaning structure children can climb on - that costs $20,000. The playground upgrade continues this week with the installation of the climby shifter and a new swing that includes two infant seats and a seat that will be suitable for disabled children as well as babies who normally can't use swings because they need head support. The drinking fountain is on order and will be installed later; in the meantime, the old fountain at Porritt Park will be moved temporarily closer to the play area before it is relocated elsewhere in Thames, possibly to the Grahamstown end of Pollen Street. Also this week, the Playco train that was put into storage will be reinstalled. The train, plus the new swing and climby shifter, are being installed at the south end of Porritt Park, where the softfall area was expanded at the end of October. The Coromandel's favourite playground (A Kompan climby shifter like the one pictured here is being installed in Porritt Park, paid for by Smart Environmental.) The work is expected to be finished at the end of this week. "It's really encouraging to see this next stage of the upgrade," says Thames Community Board member and former Thames ward Councillor Diane Connors. "It's good to see the equipment being installed, ready for the summer holidays when we'll have lots of visitors," says Mrs Connors. "Porritt Park is the most-used playground in the Coromandel and it's a great asset for Thames. We'd like to encourage people visiting the Coromandel to spend some time in Thames and look around - and the playground is a great place for the kids to get a good run-around." Porritt Park is located on Queen Street (State Highway 25) next to Goldfields Shopping Centre. The Destination Coromandel website has great ideas on activities in and around Thames, including cycling, walking, museums, and more. "The play equipment was chosen and endorsed by a core group of Thames school children from all five primary schools in the Thames area," says Derek Thompson, our Parks and Reserves Manager. "We held workshops with the students, where representatives from playground equipment manufacturers presented their products and what each item costs. The climby shifter and the swing for disabled children were specifically chosen by the students," Mr Thompson says. Grahame Christian, the owner and managing director of Smart Environmental, says his company's donation is part of an ongoing commitment to supporting the communities it works in. "When we applied for the TCDC Parks and Reserves maintenance contract, we said we were serious about giving back to the community - and this contribution to Porritt Park is part of that," Mr Christian says. "It's just one of a number of contributions that Smart Environmental has made through the years to the Thames-Coromandel community." For example, Smart Environmental sponsored the Inter-Council Sports Tournament in March, which saw about 450 people who work in local government around New Zealand come to Thames for a weekend to play soccer and touch rugby. At the north end of Porritt Park, work to remove the replica Wakatere play boat is on hold while we work with WorkSafe New Zealand to make sure that asbestos, which has been detected in the sub-structure of the play boat, is handled according to the required guidelines. Once the Wakatere is removed, work can begin on building a skate and scooter park at that location. We're expecting that to be finished in time for the April school holiday next year. In the meantime, stay tuned to our Council's website and email newsletters for more updates on Porritt Park as our upgrade continues.