Porritt Park playground is open for use with new donated equipment 09 December 2016 Porritt Park playground in Thames will be back in business this weekend after being closed so the replica Wakatere play boat could be removed to make way for the new skate and scooter park. (Thames Community Board Chair Diane Connors, left, and Smart Environmental's Grahame Christian, background, look on while while children and caregivers from Sealey Street Childcare test out the new playground equipment on a rainy Thursday.) Prior to its removal, asbestos was found in the sub-structure of the replica paddle steamer, which was built in 1969 by the Lions Club of Thames. The adjacent playground was closed as a precaution while the play boat was removed in compliance with legislated requirements. The playground has been tested for asbestos contamination and none has been found. This weekend is the first chance for children and families to try out some new equipment that was installed just before the playground was closed. Fountain and climby shifter (This plan shows the area for the new skate park on the left while the newly expanded playground area is the cross-hatched section on the right. Click on image to open larger version.) Donations from the Rotary Club of Thames and Smart Environmental (our Parks and Reserves maintenance contractor) have paid for two new playground items which have a total value of $25,000. A $5,000 donation the Rotary Club of Thames has paid for a new drinking fountain that will be accessible for children and people with disabilities. The fountain has been ordered and will be installed soon behind the new toilet block. Smart Environmental has donated the cost of a Kompan climbing shifter (also known as a climby shifter) - a leaning structure children can climb on - that costs $20,000. The climby shifter was installed last month at the same time as a new swing that includes two infant seats and a seat that is suitable for disabled children as well as babies who normally can't use swings because they need head support. At the same time, the Playco train that had been put into storage has been reinstalled in a new location in Porritt Park further away from the site where the new skate and scooter park is being built. Community involvement 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. "In partnership with Thames-Coromandel District Council we have a long-standing relationship and understand that as a significant employer in the area we are a key part of the community and certainly like to give back and be involved in community activities," says Mr Christian. Porritt Park has been gradually upgraded over the last two years, with new playground equipment, a new toilet block and now, under construction, the skate and scooter park, which is expected to be finished in time for the April school holidays next year. "This is one of the most popular playgrounds in the whole of the Coromandel so it gets great use, but we wanted to make sure we had the right equipment here to suit our young people who are using it," says Thames Community Board Chair Diane Connors. "This is just another stage we have where Smart Environmental have partnered with us and donated this lovely piece here," Ms Connors says. Local school children have been involved in the process from the start; helping to choose the playground equipment and designing the murals for the new toilet block. The design of the new skate park has also been informed by feedback from user groups. Stay tuned to our Council's website and email newsletters for more updates on Porritt Park as our work continues. Sealey Street Childcare children check out the climby shifter The Kompan climby shifter has lots of features to make it fun to climb on and explore for younger children, while also giving them lots of opportunity to develop their strength and co-ordination. Kara Goble-Barker, above, (2 years and 10 months old) explores the climby shifter while Sealey Street Childcare's Grace Trow looks on. Tongaroa Lee Ross (3 years and 3 months old) gets some elevation on the climby shifter before going to Sealey Street Childcare's Kelsie Trow.