Splash park out…pump track in

Splash park out…pump track in

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Coldstream Pump Track in Victoria.

The dream of a Byford splash park is dead in the water.

There was a vision to build the nature-themed aquatic adventure land in the Bill Hicks Reserve – an active play space that would cater to the growing number of local children in the shire.

In 2019, the shire engaged contractors to draw up a concept plan for the splash park, which was costed at $2.6 million.

In the lead up to the 2021 state election, the shire advocated for stimulus funding for the project.

Both major parties said they would only fund the project if it was built in the Byford Town Centre, instead of Bill Hicks Reserve. The Liberals promised $5 million, while Labor said they could part with $1.34 million – enough to fund just half the project.

And we all know how that election turned out.

With only half the funding of the original cost estimate, rising inflation, construction shortages and supply chain issues, a yet-to-be-developed site adding significant extra costs and considerable logistical drama, the council backed away from the project in October 2022.

But with that 1.34-million-dollar carrot still dangling, the shire went fishing to find a suitable alternative.

Nearly a year later, the community was asked for its opinion on building a pump track in place of the splash park.

The shire said it received 286 responses, with three quarters of them supportive of the idea, and most agreeing the best place for it would be in Briggs Park.

A feasibility study for the Briggs Park pump track was finished and circulated to councillors in March this year, along with three concept plan options.

The area identified as a possible location for a pump track is the disused asphalt courts/hardstand to the east of the main oval, next to Gordin Way.

Last Tuesday, the shire got the green light from Minister for Sport and Recreation David Templeman to repurpose the funds from the splash park to the pump track project.

But those funds will fall short of the total needed to build it.

So, on Monday council voted in favour of building the pump track in two stages.

The first stage will include a main pump track and ‘jump line’ (platform) and a couple of seats and picnic shelters.

As more funds become available, a beginner track, ‘pump plaza’ (ledges, rails, freestyle tricks) with return line, large shelter, carpark, lighting, CCTV, and toilet improvements, will be built.

Construction of Stage 1 is estimated to take five months from go to woah, which officers have said will begin by March next year.

But with so many big-ticket projects on the shire’s cards already, including Keirnan Park and the Oakford Fire Station, that timeline might need to be taken with a grain or two of salt.