Falkirk's Callendar Park looks a little 'run down' as facilities fall into disrepair
In its heyday Callendar Park’s par three pitch and putt had scores of would-be Tiger Woods queuing up for a round or two and its beautiful pond was full of people paddling along on pedalos.
Now the par three course is closed and looking a bit rough and the swan pedalos are rapidly becoming swan submarines, gathering moss and sinking ever deeper into the pond with every passing week.
When you also consider the Falkirk area has just enjoyed one of its finest summers in many a year – blue skies, bright sunshine and high temperatures – and the country is now going through a phase of relaxed Covid-19 restrictions you cannot help feel Falkirk Community Trust, which is responsible for the park’s amenities, has missed a trick or two here.
The park still has its amazing Roman-themed play park, which re-opened in August 2019 following a £200,000 refurbishment, available for children and families to use.
It features a 4.5 metre high Roman fort play structure, uniquely designed to reflect the style of building the Romans used in Scotland and mark the strong Roman connection to the Falkirk area.
There is also has a specially constructed roundabout which is accessible to all – including those in wheelchairs – and an extended sand play area with a basket swing.
However, this appears to be the one positive exception when it comes to the park’s facilities.
Locals have contacted The Falkirk Herald feeling disappointed at the state of some of the facilities within the popular attraction, particularly the par three course and crazy golf.
Also the lack of other attractions which have delighted youngsters every summer over the past few years.
They noted it was “not what you would expect from a location which the trust itself has described as ‘the jewel in the crown of parks’ within the Falkirk area”.
However, the park itself will not be under FCT control for much longer.
At a meeting of Falkirk Council earlier in the year, members agreed a new structure which will see the FCT’s functions split into three of the council's directorates.
Culture, arts, museums and parks will move to the newly formed Place division, while libraries will move under the umbrella of Housing and Communities and responsibility for sport and leisure will be handed over to Children’s Services.
It is expected that work to transfer all services will be completed by April 1, 2022.
Having said that, the trust is looking to at least think about reinstating some of Callendar Park’s much loved facilities – with the par three pitch and putt at the top of the list.
A Falkirk Community Trust spokesperson said: “The par three golf course has not been used as a golf area since the summer of 2019 and has not received the required level of maintenance to keep it in use as a playable course.
"We did, however, allow the area to be utilised by the community for exercise by individuals and families during periods of lockdown. It is our intention to reinstate the course given demand, with our contractor hoping to start on the necessary work this week.
"Detail on when the par three course is likely to reopen will be communicated once known. Also, to allow us to comply with current guidance for the cleaning of amenities’ equipment – golf clubs, balls, bouncy castles, flags etc – we would require additional resource to complete the required enhanced cleaning regime which would have in turn significantly reduced the opportunity for use by the public.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has not exactly helped the trust when it comes to running and maintaining the amenities in the park.
The spokesperson added: “Due to the national lockdown at the start of the year there was much uncertainty around whether the amenities could actually open in 2021 at all. We did previously have a small seasonal team who had worked in the park during the summer of 2019 but, unfortunately, we were unable to deploy these individuals as many had found alternative employment.
"Due to the continued lockdown and restrictions, recruitment of replacements was also not possible. We have since redeployed some of our own workforce to ensure the enhanced cleaning of toilet areas across all of our parks was carried out.”
Sadly, while the par three course could soon be swinging into action again, it does not look like the pond's swan pedalos will be seaworthy or even pond worthy to be used again.
The FCT spokesperson said: “Unfortunately the swan pedalos have become vandalised and damaged during the last 18 months of downtime and a review as to their part in our future programme will have to be carefully considered to ensure both customer and staff safety.
“With more people enjoying our outdoor spaces, we have made improvements for visitors within Callendar Park, with toilets open seven days per week alongside enhanced cleaning and a larger selection of catering options available. In addition to this, the play park has been improved to include the very popular activity zip line with more events returning to the park as government guidance allows.
“Falkirk Community Trust, in conjunction with Falkirk Council, have provided a comprehensive summer programme of activity aimed at school age children. These activities are taking place across the Falkirk area and will allow young people to stay active and engaged in a controlled and safe environment.
"Details of these programmes can be found on our website.”