Anger over new Springwood playground

A popular kids playground in the heart of Springwood had a $55,000 makeover recently, but many parents are not happy.

Limited negotiation took place before the play equipment was removed: Crs Mick Fell, Shae Foenander and Daniel Myles said council got it wrong on the equipment.

Limited negotiation took place before the play equipment was removed: Crs Mick Fell, Shae Foenander and Daniel Myles said council got it wrong on the equipment.

More than 400 people took to social media sites days after the installation finished earlier this month, to complain about the changes to the Springwood Early Childhood Centre playground on Macquarie Road, next to the IGA supermarket.

Some of the complaints included change in equipment which has left children bored, lack of a no smoking warning sign and the fact there was no consultation over the design.

"They got it wrong," Ward 3 Independent Cr Shae Foenander said. "The main issue is that no community consultation took place for a play area that is used by hundreds. People are very angry about a process that ignored their voices."

With the backing of Labor Cr Mick Fell and Liberal Cr Daniel Myles, Cr Foenander was able to ensure at the November council meeting that council officers recommence a consultation process.

"All Ward three councillors were adamant that this problem needs to be fixed," she said.

Cr Foenander said the first any of the councillors knew of the changes was when the "worn" equipment, which included climbing equipment and slide, were taken away. The limited consultation about the changes involved speaking to a nearby childcare centre, she said.

"None of us knew. If it had come to a briefing, as a mother, I would have told them to send it back to the drawing board," she said. "Councillors need to be informed, even about little projects. Parents are telling us this equipment is unsuitable for cognitive play."

The councillors met with many angry parents at the site on November 23. Overwhelmingly the comments on social media sites have been negative, suggesting Blue Mountains staff look to Blacktown Council where they "have fabulous parks" that "manage the ages well".

Damien Paston said: "It looks like a playground straight out of pre 1980s Russia". Ellen Gaggin said she found it "disappointing that there is nothing to climb and no slippery dip or wobbly bridge" and Paula Mecham wanted to know "what did the shopping list look like? Were these items on clearance or something?".

Julian Higginson said the previous park "wasn't a great one, but it had a largish piece of play equipment that would entertain kids for a while. They could climb, run, play shop, slide. They have turned the park into a joke. I shudder to think how much it cost to wreck it."

Cr Fell said the process had been "less than optimal".

The motion was carried unanimously. Officers will consult with users of the playground to get feedback on how to improve the site, and all councillors will be briefed on the outcome.