It’s a good question – what is happening in Kirknewton Park?
The Pavilion was built by West Lothian Council. It was first announced over five years ago as an election pledge and the intention was West Lothian Leisure/Xcite would run the Pavilion/Pitch. Circumstances change and to help the Council Kirknewton Community Development Trust have suggested a similar model to the Village Hall for a period of time, renting out the Pavilion/Pitch while the Council cover the costs . This licence in principle is being considered. It is expected there will also be a football club able to use the facilities from April 2021, if Covid arrangements allow. It is unlikely the Pavilion would have been accessible during these current challenging times
The Pavilion has two larger changing facilities inside, which could also be used as meeting rooms. They do have showers (as requested by the previous football team during it’s development). There is some storage (as requested by the Gala, but not as much as hoped). There is a space for a referee, which is a requirement for league football teams (they previously used the Village Hall and Green Room during match days). There is an externally accessible disabled toilet (as requested). External cladding to fit in with surroundings has been taken on board. Unfortunately KCC/KCDT also advised on ways to install solar panels so it would be low cost to heat, light and warm up showers (similar to the Green Room) but none of this was included in the final design. The cost of heat/lighting the facility will have to be monitored for a period to determine the cost if the Council wish us to take over the asset without it being a liability to the community. This will be considered over the next two years of the proposed licence.
In discussions during early development of the Pavilion KCDT informed the Council the pitches were unplayable due to drainage issues. That work on drainage was completed by the Council a few years ago. They left a large hill of sand/soil which has now been removed. They are also currently improving pathways and installing new benches.
This work by the Council was brought forward as Kirknewton Community Council and KCDT take forward additional park developments including improving the seating area around the Pavilion for members of the community and as a stop off point for cyclists taking the Section 75 route. This project is being co-ordinated by volunteers from KCC and staff at KCDT, employing local people and enhancing a neglected area. This co-ordinated work with the Council should make the pathways all around the park accessible for exercise/walking/running and keeping fit during the winter and into the Spring. KCDT will also refresh the area around the community woodland before the winter too.
The Park and park facilities always ranks high in the community participation exercise (and an externally facilitated discussion with stakeholders about Town Centre Funds last year) and using some of the raw data we have identified this will be the case again. For some time sensitive funding we are considering projects such as new facilities for early teens, the basket swing and initial discussions on possible bike/skate facilities (which will cost a wee bit more than we have but we will work on it!). Park equipment like the flying fox proved popular with children (who had suggested it) and the area remains popular if accessible during these challenging times.
Once the Pavilion facilities are agreed the KCDT also has some funding for a Travel Hub project which we hope will be focussed around the Pavilion, which will include promotion of the electric bikes (which you can hire from Festival Stores). Transport is always the number one issue of concern during your Community Participation Exercise and your comments will help inform the work of this project.
It’s been highlighted to the Council who maintain the park about the equipment needing some TLC and they are, we believe, addressing some of those issues as well as advising us on what projects may be taken forward by the community over the next five years. Watch this space.