Column: It’s time to bring back the parkies and putting greens
If there is a positive to come out of this pandemic, then it is surely the fact so many people have re-discovered the parks and open spaces on their doorsteps.
In doing so, I wonder if they too have compared what we have today with what we had 20, 30 years ago?
And I can’t help but think that, with modest investment, we could add so much more to them.
As a kid growing up in the 1970s, I can remember going to a play group in the park which consisted of a van packed with stuff from footballs to hula-hoops - we all piled in and simply played.
Then there were trampolines and tennis courts, and putting greens which allowed us to imagine we were the next Tony Jacklin or Lee Trevino as we holed out in two to win the game.
Football pitches were packed for official and unofficial games, while on the old tennis courts we were all McEnroe or Bjorg.And then there were the swings which, in true 1970s health and safety, were sunk into concrete.
I do recall hopping on a roundabout in Dunfermline’s Rex Park, and trying to slow it down by putting my foot in the space left by a missing wooden spar. One fractured ankle, one screaming wean, and 12 weeks in plaster.
There was no parkie at the Rex - maybe just as well. He’d probably have given me a row rather than first aid.
They were all miserable blokes who were masters of doing as little as possible, other than scowling and trying to stop you having fun. Balloon-bursting miseries the lot of ‘em!
Walking round Ravenscraig Park the other week, I couldn’t help but look at the boarded up tea-room/club house at the forgotten bowling green and wonder why we aren’t investing in these facilities any more?
The putting greens have long since gone from Beveridge Park - but how much would it really cost to re-open them?
More importantly, what are we doing about it now we understand the stronger connection between people and place post-lockdown?
The shutters remain pulled down on the park’s beautiful buildings. Every time I pass them, I can’t help but think they’d make for a great wee cafe or a creative hub; places where people connect and share ideas.
I get the ”it all costs money” answer, but if we truly value our parks and the clear benefits they offer to our mental health, then we - well, I say we, I really mean, the council and the officers who so often need nudged to get a shift on - have to get creative and come up with ways to make things happen rather than finding reasons why they can’t.
This isn’t just about cost.
This town is packed with people who make things happen on a daily basis. Maybe we need to open up those shutters, blow the dust of that wee hut at the old putting course and let them see what can be done.
We’re emerging from lockdown with different values and a greater appreciation of the landscape around us.
Let’s not miss this opportunity to make them even better.
We could do worse than turning the clock back to the way we were…