Consultation summary report
This report summarises feedback received from two rounds of community consultation for Varna Park Improvement Project. The first round was undertaken between 15 October–8 November 2019 and a second round undertaken between 6 December 2019–27 January 2020. The report details the activities undertaken with the community during these periods, provides a summary of the outcomes of the consultation activities, presents the resulting concept plan and outlines the next actions for the project. 2. Introduction/Background Varna Park is a neighbourhood park located in Waverley on the boundary of the Randwick local government area. The park draws visitation from neighbouring suburbs of Waverley and Bronte. The park provides a number of facilities including a playground, seating, water bubbler, picnic shelter, signs and a dog off-leash area. An upgrade to the playground was last completed in 2012. In 2019, Council received $280,000 of funding from the NSW Government through the Stronger Communities Fund to improve Varna Park. Council will use part of this funding to make necessary improvements, replacing aged assets and to provide rubber softfall and edging to the existing playground which is hard wearing and less maintenance intensive than the existing organic mulch. A complete list of improvement works identified on this basis includes:
- A new picnic shelter to replace the existing picnic shelter which has reached the end of its useful life.
- A new drinking fountain to replace the old drinking fountain. Council Agenda 21 April 2020 CM/7.9/20.04 Page 202 • New rubber softfall pads below play equipment to improve safety.
- New edging to the softfall mulch around the playground. \
- New bin enclosures with dog bag dispensers.
- Removal of old seats which have reached the end of their useful life.
- Removal and pruning of any un-healthy trees in the park as determined by Councils arborists.
After accounting for the above listed works, approximately $180,000 of remaining funds will be allocated to further enhance the use and enjoyment of the park. As a condition of this funding, a Council resolution was passed requiring Council officers to undertake community consultation to determine how the remaining funding should be allocated and receive feedback on the suggested improvement works listed above. Consultation methodology Council officers conducted two rounds of community consultation for this project as detailed below. Stage one consultation was held from 15 October to 8 November 2019. This consultation allowed Council officers to gather feedback on the Council recommended improvements listed above and provided an opportunity for the community to contribute their own ideas for the park. The first round of community consultation included an online idea’s board and survey which were hosted on Council’s engagement website (Have Your Say). People could also contribute by sending an email to the open space team.
- 34 ideas were generated online.
- 157 online votes were recorded.
- 34 comments were left on the ideas board.
- 8 people contributed to the survey by providing further feedback.
- 1 person sent an email with their ideas for the park.
Ideas generated were voted on by the community. The ideas generated during this first round of consultation were assessed based on the following criteria:
- Community support for the nominated idea.
- Available budget.
- Practicality of implementing and the benefits it would provide the community.
Following an assessment of the stage one results, a concept plan was drafted and made publicly available for feedback during the second round of consultation undertaken from 6 December 2019 to 27 January 2020 to ensure the design meets the community’s needs.
The second round of community consultation included another online survey hosted on Council’s engagement website. The survey was designed to ascertain what aspects of the design participants liked or disliked and allowed participants to provide any additional comments, 59 people contributed to the online survey.
Install toilet facilities
Installing toilet facilities at Varna Park received the most votes from participates with 44 votes in total. These people identified the shortage of public toilets in the area and the benefits of toilets for children using the park, including children using the playground and those using the park as part of school activities. Clovelly Public School said they would like a toilet facility at the park. The School said they use the park regularly for sports classes and activities as they have limited green space within their grounds. They also said the playground is a popular play space for their students after school. They said toilet facilities would greatly improve the park as they could use the park for longer periods of time and more easily. There were also comments made against installing public toilet facilities at the park. A total of eight comments were made from the community who were not supportive of this idea. These people expressed concern that toilets would attract anti-social behaviour and that a toilet block would not be in keeping with the parks ‘local feel’. Outcomes following Round One
- Council investigated the costs associated with installing toilet facilities at the park. It is estimated that installing a basic toilet facility fit for purpose could cost in excess of $300,000. The cost of installing toilets at the park exceeds the funds available and is therefore not feasible as part of this project.
- High ongoing maintenance costs including cleaning, security, and operational management is also not within budget for this project.
- Council’s Draft Open Space and Recreation Strategy does not identify Varna Park as a high priority location for additional toilet facilities in the local government area (LGA).
- It is therefore recommended that toilet facilities are not included as part of this project.
Of the engaged participants in Round Two, five of 59 people expressed their disappointment toilet facilities were not included in the proposed concept plan. This included a spokesperson for Bronte Public School, the school having advocated for toilets in the park on multiple occasions.
- A toilet facility is not recommended as part of this project as there are insufficient funds available to build the toilet facilities and for on-going maintenance and services.
Fence around playground
A fence around the playground was voted the second most popular idea during round one community consultation with a total of 36 people voting for this idea. These people all wanted fencing to improve safety and address the issue of dogs wondering through the play space. There were competing ideas within this group, 10 of 36 people requested a high fence that fully enclosed the playground, while nine of 36 people requested low fencing, and the remaining 17 people did not specify the type of fencing they preferred. Outcomes following Round One
- Council investigated the costs associated with installing both types of fencing:
- A fully enclosed 1200 mm high fence around the playground is estimated to cost approximately $70,000.
- A 700 mm high hooped fence in garden bed around the front of the playground is estimated to cost approximately $34,000.
- Council recommends installing a 700 mm high hoop fence in garden bed around the front of the playground with entry gate. This type of fencing has been successful in other locations to manage dogs running through the playground and will have less visual impact than a standard playground palisade fence.
- Council does not recommend a high 1200 mm fence as it reduces park permeability, encourages unsupervised play and is cost prohibitive.
Round Two Of the engaged participants in Round Two, 32 of 59 people supported the low hoop fence to the front of the playground and 11 of 59 people opposed it. Most people who opposed the fence said they would prefer to see a high fully enclosed fence around the playground and expressed concern the low hoop fence would not be effective enough in keeping dogs out of the playground. Others who opposed the low hoop fence did not want to see a fence around the playground and preferred the current free movement between the playground and open lawn area and others thought the fence would be a trip hazard.
- As there was majority support for the low hoop fence to the front of the playground, Council recommends proceeding with the proposed concept design.
Exercise equipment was voted the third most popular idea with a total of 17 votes and 9 positive comments. Those who expressed their support were excited about installing an outdoor gym with a range of exercise equipment pieces. Positive comments were made such as a fitness station would ‘encourage young people to get fit’ and that it would be ‘a fantastic enhancement to the park’. Two people expressed concern about the style of the fitness stations and requested the design of the fitness stations needs to be carried out in a ‘sensitive and aesthetic manner’.
Outcomes following Round One
- Council investigated the costs associated with installing an outdoor gym at the park. It is estimated that installing fitness equipment and associated facilities could cost approximately $100,000.
- Waverley’s Play Space Strategy identifies a shortage of recreation spaces for older children, tweens and teenagers in the area. Fitness equipment could cater to a range of ages including children in these age brackets.
- Fitness/gym-type activates are the second most popular activities in NSW for adults according to new data from the Department of Sport and Recreation. The provision of exercise equipment would appear to be a recreation opportunity that would benefit a wide range of users.
Of the engaged participants in Round two, 32 of 59 people supported the outdoor gym and 16 of 59 people opposed it. The people who supported the outdoor exercise equipment said they were looking forward to using the equipment and that it would be a great benefit to people of all ages. On the other hand, those who opposed the outdoor exercise equipment believed Varna Park was not an appropriate location for an outdoor gym, others said they do not think it will be used frequently and some believed that an outdoor gym would only appeal to a small number of people.
- As there was majority support for the outdoor gym, Council recommends proceeding with the proposed concept design.
- Council Officers will ensure exercise equipment is selected that caters to a wide range of people of varying ages, abilities and fitness levels.
A basketball hoop was voted the third most popular idea in round one with 13 votes. These people said a concrete hardstand and hoop would be a great addition to the park.
Outcomes following Round One
- Council investigated the costs associated with installing a basketball hoop and hardstand. It is estimated that installing the hoop and concrete hardstand and supporting improvements such as turf levelling around the court would cost approximately $19,000.
- Waverley’s Draft Open Space Recreation Strategy identifies an increasing trend towards more casual ‘drop-in’ style active recreation and activities within the LGA. It also recognises a shortfall of ‘drop-in’ casual sports facilities such as basketball half courts. Installing a basketball hoop and hard stand at Varna Park would be in line with the strategy by supporting this increasingly popular style of active recreation.
- Council officers also need to find a balance between the types of facilities being implemented at the park, will provide the most value and benefit to the community.
Although a basketball hoop received many votes in round one, it was not included in the recommended concept design as Council officers aimed to find a balance between the types of park improvements that were recommended. Additional active recreation is already recommended by means of the outdoor gym which received more votes in round one then the basketball hoop. Only four people expressed their disappointment a basketball hoop was not included in the design in Round 2.
- To achieve a balance of facilities in the park it is recommended that council does not install a basketball hoop.
More bins in the park was voted the fourth most popular idea with 11 votes. These people requested additional bins should be installed in the park including near the playground and in the dog off-leash area. They said there is currently a lack of bins in the park and additional bins might improve the issue of dog owners not picking up after their dogs.
Outcomes following Round One
- Council was already planning to install two new bin enclosures as part of the proposed improvement. One of these bins will replace the bin at the Wallace Street and the other will replace the bin opposite the intersection of Leichardt and Barclay Street.
- Council investigated the operational impact of installing more bins in the park on Council’s waste management services. It is recommended that one additional bin would be adequate to facilitate the park.
- Council also investigated the cost of installing one more additional bin in the park. This will cost approximately $5,000.
- All new bins will have dog bag dispenser attachments with bags for dog owners to encourage them to pick up after their dogs.
Of the engaged participants in round two, 41 of 59 people supported installing one additional bin with dog bag dispenser and four people opposed the idea.
- As there was majority support for installing the additional bin, Council recommends proceeding with the proposed concept design.
More play equipment
Requests for more play equipment was the fourth most popular idea with 10 votes. There was also an idea requesting council to ‘please keep natural play area’ at the playground. This idea received 10 votes. People made suggestions for a wide range of different types of play equipment, such as: nature play elements, a slide, climbing wall, monkey bars and more swings. These people all suggested that including more challenging play equipment would be a great improvement to the playground.
Outcomes following Round One
- Varna Park playground was upgraded in 2012 and is identified as a long-term priority in Waverley’s Play Space Strategy while Council undertakes more urgent upgrades to play spaces across the LGA as part of priority works outlined in the Play Strategy. It is not recommended to implement a large upgrade of the playground.
- Council has investigated expanding the playground and providing a new nature play area to the East of the playground. Expanding the playground in this direction will take advantage of the existing tree which could be used for imaginative play and climbing. A soft mulch surface would ensure this area is safe and meets Australian Standards.
- Council also recommends reusing the timber from the trees being removed in the park for new nature play items such as stepping logs, balancing beams and a teepee.
- Council has investigated the cost of expanding the playground with additional nature play. This will cost approximately $15,000.
Of the engaged participants in Round Two, 41 of 59 people supported expanding the nature play area and four of 45 people opposed it. The people who supported expanding the nature play also requested more challenging play equipment to cater for a wider range of ages. Suggestions for equipment that would appeal to older children was requested, along with large climbing structures, timber lizard balancing logs, zip line and a large basket swing. The people who opposed expanding the nature play said they thought the playground was large enough already and the remaining park should be kept available for teenagers and adults.
- As there was majority support for expanding the nature play area, Council recommends proceeding with the proposed concept design.
More trees and plants
Requests for more trees and plants in the reserve was popular within the community, with six people voting for this idea. Four people also voted for more shade in the playground. These people recognised the benefits of planting more plants and trees in the park to improve biodiversity and as a way to help shade park users in warmer weather.
Outcomes following Round One
- Council has investigated the costs of planting more plants and trees in the park. It is estimated to cost $6,000.
- Council recommends planting new trees around the playground and the new outdoor gym to help shade from the hot western sun.
- Infill planting and new garden beds around the playground and outdoor gym will benefit the local biodiversity and will enhance the look and feel of the park.
Of the engaged participants in Round Two, 42 of 59 people supported planting more trees and plants in the park and three of 59 people opposed it. In general, most people were positive about additional garden and trees in the park. Some people requested more planting in the park then what is proposed. Those that were opposed said they were concerned it would create less open space for play and that the current amount of garden bed was adequate.
- As there was majority support for planting more trees and garden beds in the park, Council recommends proceeding with the proposed concept design.
More bubblers for dogs
Requests for an additional drinking fountain with dog drinking bowl was popular within the community and received seven votes. These people asked for a bubbler located at both ends of the park. Clovelly Public School also said they would like more drinking fountains in the park to facilitate sports classes and school activities held at the park.
Outcomes following Round One
- To eliminate the conflict of dogs using the drinking fountain near the playground, Council recommends installing an additional drinking fountain with a dog drinking bowl in the designated dog off leash area.
- It is expected to cost approximately $8,000 to install the drinking fountain and associated services.
Of the engaged participants in Round two 40 of 59 people supported installing an additional drinking fountain with dog drinking bowl and 3 of 59 people opposed it. The people who opposed the idea did not think it was a necessary improvement to the park.
- As there was majority support for installing an addition drinking fountain with dog drinking bowl, Council recommends proceeding with the proposed concept design.
Dogs off-leash issues/fenced dog run area
A large number of people said there are compliance issues at the park with dogs off-leash outside the designated area. These people expressed concerns about dogs being in the playground and said that dogs were disturbing their enjoyment of the park. An idea for a fenced dog run area was posted on the ideas board by a member of the community, and received eight votes. These people said a fenced area for dogs would eliminate issues of dogs off-leash outside of the designated area.
Outcomes following Round One
- It is not recommended to install a fenced dog run area as this would require installing high fencing in the reserve limiting free open area for all to enjoy. These areas are often intensely used causing severe damage to turf conditions and require high levels of maintenance and up-keep costs to ensure the area is kept clean.
- Council recommends installing additional park compliance signs within the park at the edge of the dog off-leash area clearly delineating the area.
- Council has investigated the cost of installing additional signs and garden bed markers, and it is expected to cost approximately $5,000.
Of the engaged participants in Round Two, 25 of 59 people supported installing additional dog compliance signage and garden bed delineating the dog off-leash area and 13 of 59 people opposed it. The people who were in support said clearly delineating the area would help manage any dog off-leash compliance issues. While those who opposed the idea said signs are not effective enough in managing this issue, some requested for fenced dog run area and one person suggested the dog off leash area should be expanded.
- As there was majority support for installing additional compliance signage and garden beds delineating the dog off leash area, Council recommends proceeding with the proposed concept design. Further feedback The Round Two survey also provided the opportunity for participants to contribute any further feedback they had on the proposed plan and park. Below is a list of issues people would like to see addressed at Varna Park:
- The poor condition of turf in the park was a common issue raised by participants, with seven people referring to this issue. These people said the turf was dry, uneven and most of it was in a deteriorated dusty state.
- Boat parking along Leichhardt Street was another point of concern for participants, with people requesting a limit on the number of boats allowed to park along the street at any one time.
- Pram access into the park and through the park was another point of interest, with people requesting a path around or through the park.
- This feedback will be taken on notice. The current project budget is not able to accommodate all suggestions. Further works to turf and installation of a path can be pursued through operational budgets or in future capital works project budgets.
Financial impact statement/Time frame/Consultation
As there was general support for the proposed improvement works identified by Council, it is recommended that these improvements will be implemented. It is expected that these works will cost approximately $100,000. As detailed in the discussion section of this report, there was a range of great ideas generated by the community during the consultation period. Council recommends implementing the most popular ideas that best meet the criteria.
These ideas include:
- Install a hoop fence in garden bed around the front of the playground ($41,000).
- Install an outdoor gym ($100,000).
- Install an additional bin within the reserve ($5,000).
- Expand the nature play area with additional play elements ($15,000).
- Install an additional drinking fountain with bog bowl in the dog off-leash area ($8,000).
- Plant additional shade trees and plants in the park ($6,000).
- Install additional signage in the park and garden bed delineating the dog off leash area ($5,000).
These improvements to the reserve are expected to cost the remaining $180,000 of available funds. Therefore, the total budget of the project is the $100,000 of works recommended by Council plus the $180,000 of improvement works suggested by the community resulting in a total budget of $280,000.
On approval of the plan, the following steps will be undertaken:
- The community will be provided with this report and proposed concept plan.
- The concept design will be developed in preparation for construction.
- The community will be notified of any updates to the construction program as works progress at intervals of three to six months. T
The construction of Varna Park is expected to take place in late 2020 or early 2021.