As the Park approaches completion, people are asking who designed it. At the first level, it might be said that it was the community (at many levels) which, through the debates on schools replacement ended up with primary legislation in the Scottish Parliament. The concluding piece of the jigsaw was to replace the public land used for the new Portobello High School with a similar area where the old High School (and St John’s Primary School) had been. So the site was settled.
There were public consultations, meetings and so on which guided Holmes Miller (the architects for both the new St John’s and the Park). Holmes Miller, in turn, contracted MBLA design Ltd to produce designs for the Park. The construction of those designs is now approaching completion. The design process is not quite complete as the skate facility is still under discussion.
The Park is expected to open in October. Let The Keeper know if there are things you would like to know or suggest.
Well, not quite. The grass seed has germinated and tiny blades peep up from the soil. There are weeds but nothing like what you would get in your garden in today’s warm, wet weather. The park soil is probably not much of a treat for the new grass – except along the edges of the paths where a vigorous strip is emerging.
We are still not quite sure what happens next – it must be snagging and so on. It looks good now and will improve day by day.
Grass seed was spread on Treverlen on 4-5 July, it has been warm and now wet, so it cannot be long before the first shimmer of green shoots appears. The shoots will be soft and fragile, needing to be left to mature before cutting to make the growth thicken out.
Look out for those first shoots (not the weeds which are already up).
It’s what we have been looking for in the park – it will make the place look like a park. For the last 3 of 4 weeks a vast manual raking of the areas to be grassed has been underway and should be completed this week. Today, one of the Graham crew grassed on his employer, saying that no seed has yet been sown but that should start in the next few days. It then takes about 10 days for the first green shimmer to appear.
At that point the plants will be tender and the whole area would be at risk if people walked on it. So when will the park open for public use? No hard news on this yet but we have been told that it is to be handed over to the Parks Department soon and they will decide when it is safe to open. Another source said that the techy bit of the skate facility is booked but the contractor will not be available until early autumn. The two stories match – leading to a full opening in, perhaps, October. So summer picnics are off – although the excellent Figgate Burn Park is there for that.
Meanwhile, suspicious excavations appeared not far from the rather odd SUDS pond, making some think that Plan C, D or E was to be implemented – given that the excavation was on behalf of Scottish Water. But no, the digging is to fix a substantial sewerage problem for some houses in Hamilton Terrace. Various ‘oscopies were done identifying a problem half way along the street and after strenuous efforts by some residents, Scottish Water accepted the problem was theirs and fixed it, we hope.
So what happens next? We don’t know – will the park site continue to have messy barriers right through to October? Probably, as the park railings (which are not to be refurbished) will not deter anyone from entering. Guerrilla gardening anyone?
There was an infamous TV artist who used to paint, frequently commenting “Can you see what it is yet?” This is the question in our minds as we watch the final throes of the SUDS system. Over the last couple of weeks, many of the workers on site have been practising their plumber’s suck in the cheeks look as they puzzle how to make a reality of the Master Designer’s plan for draining the site. Council officers have visited, armed to the gills with clipboards, murmuring “something must be done”.
Or so we surmise, as there has not been a peep from the Council nor the contractors. Desultory digging has occupied days, leaving things much as before. The issue is what is the large, sometimes dry, deep lake supposed to do. One theory is that it catches all the water from the once in 200 years storm and holds it while letting it run away into the main surface water drains (made more difficult by Scottish Water’s refusal to allow the water off the site). A different version is that the water is to be held in the lake, while it soaks down into the ground. Now that ain’t going to happen as the lake is deliciously lined in masses of Portobello’ s clay – on which various industries were built. If the Figgate pond doesn’t drain, built on the same clay, why would Treverlen Lake?
Adjustments have been made to the drain emptying the lake – but we believe the outlet is now below the level of the drain at the other side of the site, so we await a “Back to the Future” antigravity machine to make water flow uphill.
The new St John’s paddling pool at the western end of the park is much enjoyed by children, whether in wellies or not. They are joined by half a dozen ducks – ducks, water, what’s not to like? Even so there is a story that someone was worried by the ducks predicament and called the RSPB – who came to inspect! Must be apocryphal, like Noah and the Flood.
All to play for as they say on “Only Connect”.
We think the contractors are due off site next week.
This week has been so wet that it was surprising to see any work done at all, but doggedly all week vans have been arriving, squeezing into the park gates to deliver – crumbs! Actually the soft rubber crumbs are to cushion falls from the various bits of climbing fun. The climbing rocks are professionally designed to give young people an exciting time without terrifying their entourage with terrible tumbles. There will be falls, bruises, tears but that is what play is about.
And, quietly, the open spaces are being brought to a tilth, ready to sow grass. The ground is warm and if the rain would let up, the place could be looking green in a couple of weeks.
Last week we mentioned the white Stonehenge that had rolled down from the mountains but this week all changed. It has acquired colour and texture so now resembles a Shar pei dog, all brown folds and wrinkles. Treverlen rocks are here.
In reality, the white blocks have been sprayed with a thick coat of stone-like material to make the kids’ climbing experience all the more real. The work is still under way and other large blocks of faux-stone have appeared.
The large paths, which we thought were to be laid in hoggin, have been tarmacked. The large flat areas of ground are being tilled and raked, ready for planting of grass seed. The SUDS pond has a new drain at the east end to enable water to run away. Lack of water may be why so many of the new beech hedge plants have not taken growth – unlike those at St John’s which are lushly copper.
Speaking of St John’s – we might copy in Treverlen this excellent willow tunnel in the school playground. The Figgate Park has some.
It all has the feeling of the final touches – as if you were decorating and you are doing the final touch-up before hanging the curtains. Here you can see the new bike racks at the north gate, with the new bin ready to mount on the stone pegs beside them. Then behind there is a row of benches, all facing south, with the new beech hedge protecting the SUDS pond. Like at St John’s Primary School, the hedge will have a post and wire fence at its core which will quickly make a child-proof barrier. After last night’s torrential rain, the SUDS pond has some water – we wait to see if that ever drains away.
It can’t be long before the grass is sown – expected to be a rough flowering meadow, rather than a bowling green type. The entrances are looking enticing – come in and enjoy. That might invite rogue traffic (already seen at the back entrance in Hamilton Drive) so work is underway to install removable bollards to ensure the right kind of recreation.
Across the road, a neighbour has had the flowering plum trees in his garden pruned which will invigorate them by allowing light into the centre of the trees. They look wonderful. These trees are a feature up Durham Road too. Tree surgeons used to trim the three similar trees in Treverlen but were never given rein to apply their professional skills to shaping the trees and extending their lives. As a result some of them are now uncomfortably shaped with risks of failure, now they are no longer shielded by the old school. This kind of tree has a relatively short life and needs care. Remember how they looked when St John’s opened in 1926?
The removal of the top soil ziggurat this week has opened a new view of the park from Duddingston Road. The area next to the road has just been levelled and will eventually be open grass. The sphere climbing frame is to the left.
The eastern boundary of the park is also now visible – the climbing rocks will be arriving here soon.
It was Friday afternoon, the workmen had finished for the weekend and people were wandering around Treverlen, still wondering what it will be like, but the misapprehensions are diminishing.
“The park is named after a teacher at St John’s” – no, it is an early name for Duddingston. “There will be a small lake in the corner, for model boats” – no, the big bowl is to catch the water from the worst storm in 200 years. “It will take months to finish” – yes, 2 months with the contractors off site by the end of June. “The skate park will be too big, too small, just right , enough for the space available” – the answer to this depends on your view of the facts – the size shows on the plans. And so on, lots of “somebody told me…”
But actually, most people are just staring in admiration, hoping that it will suit the community, noting details, planning guerrilla gardening and family picnics. Already people sit in the section behind the school enjoying the view (actually it is closed while they finish the installation of the school path street lights).
Many say they can’t remember what it was like before. “A 9 storey tower block? Never!” It is still a building site and dust is giving some trouble, Today the final mound of topsoil was dismantled and the soil spread around the site. Preparation for grass seeding cannot be far off. The recent rush of progress has been achieved under the innocuous drain cover shown here – the end of the Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS).
The SUDS pond will be protected by a beech hedge planted around a post and wire fence. On the other side of the north path is the climbing stones zone – with rubber crumb to soften the fall – even the Keeper might try this.