A $500,000 upgrade to St Johns Park in Blaxland has begun

A $500,000 upgrade to St Johns Park in Blaxland has begun.

First sod turns on way to being more accessible: St John's Park, Blaxland (l) Mayor Mark Greenhill and Cr Brendan Christie on Wednesday.

First sod turns on way to being more accessible: St John's Park, Blaxland (l) Mayor Mark Greenhill and Cr Brendan Christie on Wednesday.

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill and Ward 4 Councillor Brendan Christine turned the first sod on Thursday [October 21] as construction started on the accessible, play space.

Cr Greenhill said: "This is made possible by a half million dollar federal grant with an in-kind contribution by BMCC worth at least a further $25,000."

Council is managing the project. The mayor said they were "very grateful for this funding and it will see the creation of a play space that is accessible to children from a range of different ages and and is fully inclusive".

"I joined my colleague on site as the council staff put up the barricades and we broke first ground on a project that will be completed just before Christmas, weather permitting."

The funds, promised during the 2019 federal election, will provide new equipment and improvements that make the space inclusive for users of all abilities.

Current play equipment will be retained in the upgrade, while the proposed changes will include a new accessible toilet, a sensory walk including features that focus on touch and motor skills, picnic and seating areas, accessible parking spaces, and new equipment suitable for all levels of ability.

Liberal Senator Marise Payne has said the park's transformation would ensure all children can play together in a fun and accessible environment, regardless of ability.

"It's also about making sure that parents, guardians and carers are confident that their local park is safe, accommodating and practicable," she said.

More than 100 people gave feedback during a community consultation session and more responded online.

"The basketball courts will stay in place and will be available during construction. We had a massive response from the community consultation process which informed the design," the mayor said.

He said "council used a ground-breaking online process where people could nominate what they would like to see in the park and that then went through to our designers."

Andrew Daley, CEO of Dare Disability, has previously said making the Blue Mountains more inclusive must be a priority.

"We know from our own experiences at DARE that locals want and expect facilities and services to be inclusive and welcoming."

The upgrade was scheduled to be completed by the middle of 2022, but the mayor said they were hopeful it would be completed early.

Ward 4 Cr Brendan Christie said "it was great to be at St John's Oval playground to see the fencing go up to signal the start of construction. This has been a record term of investment in Blaxland." He said the development would be "an amazing asset".

More than a million dollars was spent on Glenbrook Park which opened in April. That new playground, in addition to a junior playground built in 2018, is an inclusive new play space for seven to 12-year-olds.

Federal MP for Macquarie Susan Templeman said she's been a strong voice for more accessible playgrounds.

"In my first term of Parliament I campaigned very hard to see an increase in inclusive playgrounds across the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, so I am delighted to see this progress," Ms Templeman said.

"I'm sorry to miss the sod-turning because I am in Canberra for Parliament. This is the only sort of dirt we need to see flying - it's great when there are multiple tiers of government representatives all wanting to see the same thing."