In our new Covid19 reality, many things have changed. Some things have changed for the better, but much for many has changed for the worse. Financial stability has been eroded, life feels a little more precarious and inequities within our community and wider society have been thrown into stark relief. These are indeed difficult times.
Our local project of Ponsonby Park, the civic space at 254 Ponsonby Road, seems both insignificant and relevant at this time. Insignificant in that it won’t save any lives, nor ameliorate the pain of those who have lost loved ones. It won’t help with the provision of PPE equipment or hasten the development of a vaccine.
Yet Ponsonby Park is relevant because it provides continuity with our pre-Covid19 lives. The Community-Led Design process for the development of 254 Ponsonby Road, delivered the LandLAB Park + concept design and activated literally hundreds of people. It has sustained their engagement and provided a tangible vision of inclusion, diversity and community empowerment.
Whilst we have all been in Level 4 lockdown, the Project Control Steering Group (PCSG) has continued their work via virtual meetings. And although the timeline for the commencement of the physical development work of Ponsonby Park has necessarily being interrupted, progress nevertheless continues. The re-zoning process is well underway with no objections received. Five design companies had been invited to submit RFPs (Request For Proposals) before this needed to be postponed as Council concentrated on essential services due to Covid19.
Additionally, Council is actively looking for ways to ensure this long-awaited and valued community project is achieved. Ponsonby Park was included in the long-list of large ‘shovel ready’ projects drawn up by Council for consideration by the Government as suitable infrastructure projects to help re-boot the economy. Ponsonby Park filled the requirements of creating jobs, supporting key trades, and providing real public benefit. Unfortunately, it did not make the short-list submitted by Council to Government, but as Ponsonby Park is the first ‘One Local Initiative’ (OLI) project ready for Council approval and funding, we are confident it will proceed in due course.
In our post Covid19 world, where social connectedness will be even more important and relevant than ever, Ponsonby Park is precisely the infrastructure and amenity that our community wants and needs. As we all find our new way forward, it will be the common ground and the community hubs that enable everyone to reestablish their lives well and with resilience.
The vision for Ponsonby Park has always been of a place for people to safely gather, rest, relax, and recreate. A place to meet new people or catch up with old friends or to simply spend some time to chill and take a moment. These things are even more important now. Ponsonby Park – bring it on.