A Vision for John-Weir Park

Ideas to start a conversation …

The felling this week of an old tree on the western side of John-Weir Park and the forthcoming tree-focussed environment day planned by the town in the park on 13 October set me to thinking about the future of this green space.

Traditionally the park has had three uses …

  1. A breathing space between the houses
  2. A childrens’ play area with climbing frames and swings
  3. A softball pitch

The third of those uses was removed in spring of 2018 when the facility was removed from the west island league that used to play there. It was said that this pitch was henceforth to be made available for play by children or youth teams (official or informal) but after a long, hot summer it is clearly evident that there is no interest in such use and so the sand sits there gradually sprouting weeds and looking sad and unloved. I live very close and pass the park daily – in the past six months I have one father and son throwing balls there and that’s it.

So – how could the green space best be managed to serve the community? We know that replacement trees for the ashes lost in the wooded band on the southern side are to be planted. That is excellent and so long as the saplings are not vandalised will be a good thing … but what use is all that close-mown grass?  Grass is really a boring, sterile monocrop that adds nothing to the interest or biodiversity of parks and attracts almost no wildlife. Here are some things to think about … remembering that walking in forests, often these days called “forest bathing”, is restorative for the weary soul.

First, the park as it stands today is illustrated by the satellite image heading this article.

Option 1

Double the size of the existing wooded area by planting a suitable mix of native trees and shrubs. This will increase the biodiversity in this location and attract more birds and interesting insects and flowers to the area while maintianing some of the grassed area for those who like that sort of thing. In fall the colours would be enjoyed by everyone and the “forest” would link to and continue the green corridor running from the Cemetery and along the two footpaths linking St-Andrews and Oxford.  The ball pitch would still be available for children if a local group get together in future years.

Option 2

Just get rid of the sand and the baseball pitch altogether. Realistically, is it going to be much used in the years ahead? Plant some of the area with taller native grasses, milkweed etc to attract butterflies and other interesting insects – a larger version of the highly successful area on Stafford that has been maturing for three or four years now.

This is what Option 2 might look like … double the area for trees but still an open area

Option 3

Going full hog and creating (slowly, trees don’t spring up fully formed in a season) are small suburban forest full of interesting birds and other wildlife and with trails amongst the trees to walk in the summer shade.

The children’s play area remains untouched and could even be extended.

 

Just ideas – what do you think? Trees or boring grass In Perpetuity.

** Since posting this piece the town have announced a public meeting in the Red Barn at 7pm on Tuesday 26 September where they will unveil their plans for the park … interesting.