A spruce-up for Bandra’s gardens

In a project involving residents, the BMC and an urban planner, Joggers’ Park and two other gardens will get a facelift. Children’s areas will be made more exciting, and a retired naval aircraft will adorn a traffic junction

Published - March 02, 2020 01:56 am IST - Mumbai

Evening walkers at Joggers’ Park.

Evening walkers at Joggers’ Park.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is giving open spaces in Bandra a makeover. The project is a truly inclusive one, involving a corporator and an urban planner, and incorporating suggestions from residents.

The iconic Joggers’ Park and two other gardens will sport a new look and host improved play areas for children. One traffic junction will see the installation of a retired naval aircraft.

The BMC’s Garden Cell has tied up with urban planner Rinka D’Monte for the project, and along with Bandra corporator Asif Zakaria, plans to upgrade these public spaces. The project is slated to cost ₹8 crore.

Urban planner Rinka D’Monte’s design for Bandstand Public Park 2

Urban planner Rinka D’Monte’s design for Bandstand Public Park 2

The Joggers’ Park project was planned two-and-a-half years ago, but contractors were appointed only last year, when the remaining projects were planned.Mr. Zakaria has planned work in Almeida Park too, which is awaiting approval. Ms. D’Monte has planned work in Joggers’ Park and Bandstand Park 1 and 2, while the Sea Harrier Traffic Island Park has been planned by Peter D’souza, a former naval officer. While Mr. Zakaria is helping with the approvals, Ms. D’Monte, a Bandra resident, is working on the project for free.

Work at Bandstand Park 1 and 2 has received approvals, and the tendering process is likely to start in a month’s time. From then on, the projects will take at least nine months to complete. The Sea Harrier Traffic Island Park was completed in December and will be inaugurated on March 16.

More play

In most of the parks, the play area is installed in a small sand pit without planning, and play equipment is installed at random places. Children cannot utilise the resources to their fullest, said Ms. D’Monte. “For children to enjoy their time in a park, we need to think like them and create a playing path that will be exciting for them to walk by, like in a game or a story,” said Ms. D’Monte.

The play equipment in Joggers’ Park will have short mountains and tunnels.

The plan for children’s play area at Joggers’ Park

The plan for children’s play area at Joggers’ Park

In addition, Joggers’ Park will see an improvement in the pathway as well as the mud track. The children’s play area will have a rubber mat and two sheds will be put up for joggers to take shelter from the rain.

Around 12 sculptures of athletes running, walking and exercising will be put up along with heritage and colourful lighting in the entire park, said an official from the BMC’s Garden Cell. Work began in July 2019 and will continue till April-end this year.

The idea is to mak these spaces attractive to visitors, said Mr. Zakaria. “People living in the area are emotionally attached to Joggers’ Park. We are trying to upgrade the parks to invite more footfalls like the Bandstand promenade.”

Bandra residents who are urban planners are being invited to give suggestions to the Garden Cell on the upgrade. “It is an effort to develop the parks as tourist places,” he said.

Shyama Kulkarni, Bandra resident and AGNI trustee who has worked closely on Joggers’ Park ever since it was handed back to the BMC in 2017, said the residents were happy about the upgrade. They had raised the issue of squatters next to the park, and the BMC is increasing the height of the fence, she said. A police chowky has also been installed in the area. “Joggers’ Park is Bandra’s pride and we keep giving suggestions for its upkeep,” she said.

Music at Bandstand

Ms. D’Monte is also working on two parks at Bandstand. Bandstand Park 1 will now be a musical park, with the installation of two instruments that visitors can play.

The BMC is working on making the instruments from material used in construction works, such as aluminum and PVC pipes. One of them will be an air instrument while the other one will be similar to a xylophone or jaltarang. “As the park is facing the sea on one side, a seating area will be constructed to develop it as a sunset point,” Ms. D’Monte said.

The park will have a central play area with games demarcated on the floor and seating beneath the wooden trellis, which will form a green roof.

Bandstand Park 2 will also be upgraded, with seating covered with an overhead trellis that will form a play of light and shadow.

Children play at Jogger’s Park

Children play at Jogger’s Park

Besides these, though, the BMC’s plan to install a retired Sea Harrier aircraft from the decommissioned INS Viraat at a traffic island at Bandstand is still in progress.

The aim was to showcase its glory and turn the area into a selfie point.

“We have removed the boundary and fence of the junction so that people can go close to the aircraft and click better pictures with it. It will also have seating,” Ms. D’Monte said.

Work has started at Joggers’ Park. There is also a plan to upgrade three more parks near Bandstand and Almeida Park, said Mr. Zakaria.

“This is an ideal scenario where the administration, elected representative and local representative are collectively trying to work together for the betterment of society,” he said.

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