Ruby wants to know …. Where’s the playground Susan?

Ruby Webb, right, has written to Waipā council asking it to honour its word and build a playground for older children like her and sister Amy, left. Photo: Supplied.

A Pirongia youngster is furious Waipā District Council has yet to build a new playground for over five-year-olds in the village.

Ruby Webb, 11, who with her sister Amy, 10 cut the ribbon at the $100,000 Rangimārie Reserve playground opening in June 2019, says “technically” they should not have been allowed in because they were over five at the time.

And her mother Ruth, one of the driving forces behind fundraising for the fenced junior playground, is calling on mayor Susan O’Regan and the rest of the council to stop ignoring Pirongia.

“Where’s the stuff for our young people? We’re always the last to get everything. Our kids don’t have anywhere to hang out.”

During the Ahu Ake spatial plan consultation, Ruth said she was “shouting pretty loud” about the lack of facilities for young people and for Pirongia.

Details of Ruby’s complaint are included in a letter to the council which was considered by the Pirongia Ward committee at its meeting yesterday (Wednesday), after The News went to press.

Ruth Ward is the Pirongia representative on the ward committee chaired by another local, councillor Clare St Pierre.

Ruby says the council promised it would build another playground for the older children. The existing one next to the Pirongia Rugby and Sports Club is ageing and was touted for replacement eight years ago.

“We saw teenagers hanging about on the tiny playground by the rooms They were all crammed in. We kids just want a place to hang out with space.”

Awamutu and Cambridge had little to no need to fundraise a cent for their playgrounds, she said.

“Pirongia will have to fundraise every single cent. We aren’t happy with this. Please keep your word.”

The company that designed the Rangimārie junior playground also drew up plans for a senior playground.

Brad Ward

In response Community Services manager Brad Ward said the council’s renewal programme prioritises playgrounds with poor condition ratings and non-compliant or failing play equipment or safety surfacing.

The current playground was not scheduled for renewal or upgrade but when it was, and once a site for a skate park was found, it might influence the best location.

Ward named the site options as the current location at the rugby club, next to the junior play area at Rangimārie or to split the renewal budget for both sites.

A site for a new skatepark has been identified by the council with mana whenua approval.

Details are being kept quiet while Heritage New Zealand, which has an interest in the area – The News understands is for archaeological reasons – lets the council know what it needs covered off.

Geotechnical and soil testing has been undertaken with results indicating it is suitable but needs additional foundation work.

Council will provide seed funding for the skatepark with the remainder of the funds raised by the community.

Once complete, the parks would become a council asset, Ward said.

Amy and Ruby Webb cut the ribbon at the Rangimārie Reserve playground opening watched by then mayor Jim Mylchreest and Ruth Webb, holding the umbrella. Photo: Supplied.

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