A few years back, I was undertaking some miscellaneous contract administration tasks for development open space maintenance.
My task was simple, to achieve handover to release the landscape bonds. However, during my task, I learnt three really important lessons that directly impacted the community respect to the space.
- The conditions of open space determines the respect it will receive
- The end park users are landscape architects clients
- It is easier to maintain rather than repair.
Some background about the site without going into the detail. The client thought they could do the landscape maintenance themselves. However, with a developer busy schedule, landscape maintenance is generally not high on their list.
So when we were engaged, the site desperately needed some attention. The developer had tried many times to get the site handed over to council, yet they were not interested. The site was not acceptable.
Basically, the site had overgrown grass, weeds issues and poor performing trees etc. Very little maintenance and repair work had been undertaken for many months.
During my multiple site visits to the site to rectify the works. I soon discovered the surrounding community were not emotional or spiritually engaged to the open space.
A poor disrespect and appreciation for the space was extremely evident. The space was heavily vandalised. There was multiple broken trees snapped at the trunk base from a car driving over them, wheel ruts carved into the grass, burnout in the grass, and not to mention a massive list of other defects found in the audits.
The first step was to get the site back into a presentable standard. This was very difficult and costly. Eventually, all items were addressed.
During my audits, I engaged with the community and gathered their feedback. Most were praising the landscape contractor work in turning around the site. They enjoyed having a chat to his team to work out what he would be working on next.
Importantly, from my perspective the grass became green and it could be mown. The trees got watered and new growth emerged. The playground had mulch and litter was removed. New trees were planted and dead stock removed.
Once the park got back to a presentable standard. The vandalism rate throughout the park decreased or stopped.
The community responded well to a well maintained and improved space. I observed greater park usage during my audits. I noted a real increase in the diversity of people walking along the shared path through the park. People were coming from surrounding developments to use the space. They were passionate about the space and enjoyed exercising there.
Pleasingly, we achieved hand over with council. What happened next is a new blog.
Even though I didn’t pick up a shovel, I really valued my input and contribution to help turn this park around. Ultimately, making the space more beneficial to the community and more fit for its purpose.