Deputy Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, has officially opened the new state of the art play park within Ballyarnett Country Park.
The much anticipated play area incorporates three separate zones of large-scale timber play equipment for toddlers, children and older children.
The new facility is all enclosed within a 2.4m high mesh fence and set back off the Racecourse Road in the Ballyarnett area.
Derry’s latest play park scheme has been jointly funded by the Social Investment Fund (SIF), under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Delivering Social Change Framework, and Derry City and Strabane District Council, through its Play Development Programme.
Speaking at the official opening of the £600,000 project, the Deputy Mayor welcomed the completion of another project in Council’s Invest in Play programme.
Councillor Boyle said: “I am delighted to open this stunning new play park which is a much needed facility for families in area.
“The play park is further evidence of Council’s commitment to providing a high level of accessible play provision for children across the City and District through the Invest in Play programme.”
The Deputy Mayor added that several other projects were also being advanced for the Ballyarnett parkland.
He said: “This is one of a number of major projects earmarked for the extensive Country Park and makes it an even more attractive proposition for families to visit and enjoy the outdoors.”
Darren Kirby, Strategy Manager for the Outer North Neighbourhood Partnership, expressed his delight that local families could now enjoy state of the art play provision on their doorstep.
Mr Kirby said: “On behalf of Outer North Neighbourhood Partnership, I would like to warmly welcome the park’s official opening and look forward to seeing the people of Ballyarnett and the surrounding area reaping the benefits of this facility.
“This significant investment will enhance the infrastructure and offering within Ballyarnett Country Park and continue the extensive regeneration efforts that are taking place across the area.”
Mr. Kirby said the that the Outer North Neighbourhood Partnership saw the new facility as an important for a variety of reasons.
He said: “We’re keen to promote the importance of ‘play’ for children and young people and we’re confident that this play park will act as focal point for the country park - a place for children to play and forge new friendships, while ensuring they remain healthy and active.”
Noel McCartney, Chair of the local Strategic Investment Fund Steering Group, added: “I wish to congratulate the community and statutory partners for all their hard work in bringing this project to fruition.
“The Play Park adds to the existing offering at Ballyarnett Country Park and will enhance the quality of life of the residents of the Ballyarnett and Greater Shantallow areas by offering a safe and convenient place for children to play together.”
Mr McCartney added: “I would like to thank the Executive Office and Council for their contribution and I would also like to personally acknowledge the support and guidance that the late Martin McGuinness gave our local steering group.
“As Deputy First Minister, Martin was particularly supportive in helping bring this and other SIF projects to fruition because he knew the positive impact it could have on the lives of local families.”
A spokesperson for the Executive Office outlined developments on a number of other park and play facilities currently under way across Derry.
The spokesperson said: “We recently welcomed the progress that has been made with the Ballymagroarty and Kilfennan projects, which have a contractor on site, as does the Brandywell site. Together with Ballyarnett, these projects form the SIF Invest in Play project.
“We are delighted that the Ballyarnett play park is now open. The park will provide excellent facilities that will improve the quality of young people’s lives. The Invest in Play project shows what can be achieved when regional government, local government and most importantly, the local community work together to create real and tangible benefits for all the community.”