It's not all smooth sailing for Valley parks
A STATE-of-the-art playground is coming soon to Grafton, with construction expected to begin in the coming months.
Grafton's upgraded regional park, Jacaranda Park, is the manifestation of a plan implemented by the council in 2015 to distribute parks throughout the Clarence Valley based on population and available land space.
Clarence Valley Council general manager Ashley Lindsay said consultation with the community assisted in creating a hierarchy of parks.
Local parks are small, tend to be used for up to 15minutes at a time and will typically include a small swing set and few pieces of equipment.
District parks will include facilities such as public toilets and benches and are expected to be used for visits of up to one hour.
Regional parks are designed to be used for up to a day and include picnic facilities and equipment for all ages.
"Council recognises our playgrounds were not up to standard,” Mr Lindsay said.
"It is critical for council to ensure parents have a safe place for children to play, for parents to know they're going to be safe.”
But Mr Lindsay said it hadn't all been plain sailing.
"To stretch the budget as far as we can, we've had to close some playgrounds, the ones that are underutilised facilities, that had the really old equipment, and what we've been able to do is focus our attention on the highly utilised areas.”
He said the council had received criticism over the closures but ultimately the plan has proved a positive one.
Mr Lindsay said the focus for Jacaranda Park was on being "all accessible for all kids, of all abilities”.
"There is also some Aboriginal awareness, cultural awareness equipment there as well.
"People will start to see over the next few months the actual equipment will start to be erected there.”
Some community members have voiced concern about playgrounds in the Valley lacking shade or facilities.
Clarence Valley Council open spaces coordinator David Sutton said the council was "always limited by budget” in ensuring parks had everything they needed.
Mr Sutton said the council always opted for natural shade when available, to lessen opportunity for vandalism and reduce costs.
The hierarchy provides a guideline for where costs should be spent. A regional playground will require a greater budget than a local playground, which may not include as many facilities.