Transformation underway at park

CHRISTCHURCH Park's massive transformation has entered a new phase which will see Ipswich's most popular open space transformed during 2007.Demolition crews today moved into the toilets by the Bolton Lane entrance to the park.

By Paul Geater

CHRISTCHURCH Park's massive transformation has entered a new phase which will see Ipswich's most popular open space transformed during 2007.

Demolition crews today moved into the toilets by the Bolton Lane entrance to the park. The toilets will be replaced by a new administration and education centre later this year.

Meanwhile the Wilderness Pond has been drained of water and the unpleasant work of removing thousands of tonnes of silt has begun.

The work is part of the £4.4 million restoration of the park - £3.3 million of which is being financed by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The new building at the Bolton Lane entrance will include offices for park staff, a reception area which will sell park-related items and have leaflets explaining the park and tourist attractions in Ipswich, an education centre, and fully-staffed public toilets - including some which can be used by those with disabilities.

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It will have energy-saving devices built in and will have a green roof of soil and plants which should provide superb insulation.

Park manager Sam Pollard is still looking for a name for the new centre.

He said: “It is more than an education centre and more than a visitor centre - names like that could put people off.

“There will be temporary exhibitions there - and it will be very much a bridge between the park and the mansion. We need a name that reflects that.”

At the same time the toilets in the Lower Arboretum will be demolished and replaced by a new terraced building with toilets which can be used by people in wheelchairs.

This building will also include a kiosk selling ice creams, drinks and sweets, and a small equipment store.

Electricity for this building will be generated by a wind turbine which is being installed and should even put power back into the national grid.

Both new buildings should be completed by the end of August, and the park should look very different by the end of the year.

FEEDING the ducks and waterfowl with bread could be banned once restoration of the Wilderness pond has been completed.

This weekend the pond was drained and work has now started on removing the five-feet of silt that has built up over more than 80 years.

This has come from generations of ducks and other waterfowl that have been attracted to the pond by kind-hearted visitors who take bread to them.

However park manager Sam Pollard warned this would probably be banned once the restoration of the pond is completed.

He said: “The fact is that feeding bread to the ducks is not really good for anything apart from the rats. Ducks will eat bread, but it isn't good for them - it doesn't give them the nutrients they need.

“And if you feed them you get too many on the pond and they cause more silt which means the pond becomes more and more stagnant.”

When the pond was drained just two live fish were found and relocated.

Last year the Round Pond had to be oxygenated after it was found that some of the fish were suffocating because of too much silt.

Mr Pollard said: “Ideally there would be just five or six pairs of ducks on the Wilderness Pond and three pairs on the Round Pond - that would maintain the natural balance in the park.”

He does not know how long feeding ducks would be banned and has not decided how to enforce the ban, but was anxious to get the message across to people.

He said: “I used to feed the ducks. We know it is a nice thing to do - but it really isn't good for them, the pond, or the park.

“The silt will take about three weeks to clear and is being taken to a pit at the top of a mound in the park, near the back of the children's playground.

Mr Pollard said: “The silt is 80 per cent water and gradually, over the next two years, that will drain away and the water will return down through the aquifers to the pond although by then it should be very clean, thoroughly filtered.

“The silt will be very nutrient-rich soil and our plan is to plant a children's wood on that area of the park.”

The round pond is also to be drained and the silt removed over the next few weeks.

Two more ponds will be dug on the site of ancient ponds in the park - and it is possible that an open culvert will be created because underground drainage pipes are vulnerable to the roots of trees.

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