13 February 2024

Recreational precinct in Jindera gets a boost with a shiny new playground

| Vanessa Hayden
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Two children stand on playground equipment

It’s all smiles for Gippsland’s Kaiden, 9, and Meila, 4, who enjoyed the new Jindera playground during a visit to their relatives. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

Jindera’s rapidly growing community can now boast a million-dollar improvement to its recreational precinct with a new playground and other enhancements recently completed and more still to come.

Greater Hume Shire Council acting general manager Greg Blackie said it had been a significant investment for the town and a project that had taken at least eight years to come to fruition.

Greg, the director of engineering, said the venture was delayed by a variety of hurdles that had to be overcome and setbacks due to funding knockbacks and COVID.

“This is a fantastic outcome for Jindera and we have received many positive comments since opening the park in December,” he said.

“There are a few more improvements to come. We are aware that more shade is required and there’s tree planting organised for when the weather cools down which will provide natural shade in the coming years.

“There will be more shade erected in due course, but we just wanted to get the park open and allow the community to start using it.”

Also to come is the installation of an all-abilities item of play equipment, the construction of car parking, shared footpaths, fencing, a dump point and an electric vehicle charging point as budgets permit.

“We will also be installing CCTV for security purposes at both the playground and skate park,” Mr Blackie said.

Playground equipment

The expansive new playground has climbing equipment, swings and a flying fox as well as a shaded picnic table and other seating. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

The recreational precinct is also home to the new skate park, the swimming pool, football and netball grounds, the Morgan’s Car Club, Jindera Anglers Club, the tennis courts, wetlands, primitive camping and major communication infrastructure, and is the possible site for a future multi-purpose building.

“A master plan for the playground development was created in 2016 with discussions held with the recreation grounds committee and we then had to determine how council was going to fund it,” Mr Blackie said.

No easy feat, as it turned out.

Through an old-style arrangement with the developers of the Pioneer Park estate there were three parcels of undeveloped land set aside for “pocket parks” that could be reclassified and sold to fund the project.

“The process involved extensive consultation that is required as part of reclassifying community land to operational land so they could be sold, and at the time (2018), it was expected that $200,000 to $250,000 could be achieved, which wasn’t enough,” Mr Blackie said.

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Council was unsuccessful for three consecutive years in securing additional State Government funding to complete the playground, which was budgeted at the amount the land could be sold for.

“That was very disappointing,” Mr Blackie said.

“In the meantime, we were able to complete the skate park but on top of the State Government funding knockbacks and then COVID arriving the playground development stalled.”

As it turns out, there were unexpected advantages to the delay caused by the pandemic.

Man holds swing with two children on it

Greater Hume Shire Council says the feedback it has had about the playground is very positive. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

The resulting increases in land prices meant that when council put the three blocks out for sale through expressions of interest the net return was $450,000 – almost double the original estimate for the value of the land.

In 2022, the tender for the playground was undertaken. A scope/basic layout was provided with minimum requirements and a budget of $420k (allowing $30k for provisional items).

“We received six tenders and they were all displayed for public consultation involving social media and a static display at the Jindera council office. From the results of 149 replies, 73, or 49 per cent of comments received supported the tender from Forpark,” Mr Blackie said.

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Greg said the entire project included $200,000 for the skate park, $100,000 for toilets, $450,000 for the playground, $100,000 for the all-abilities equipment (to be installed this year) and $200,000 for completion of a carpark (to come).

“Jindera is becoming a very popular place to live due to its location and proximity to Albury and we have a significant number of families with young children moving here,” he said.

“This was the catalyst for developing a suitable play space for the community and visitors.”

Comments received by council have indicated users are most impressed by it, he said.

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