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The train tracks in Gisborne's Adventure playground will be removed soon. This will be the end of an era for the Adventure Playground train that was introduced into the park by Lions clubs in 1981.
The train has been a popular addition to the playground for many years and has run with the help of a loyal bunch of volunteers. Difficulties in maintaining and operating the train and track began to emerge in the late 1990’s. Together with the need to comply with requirements to safely operate a public amusement the train stopped operation in early 2000’s.
“The train was operated briefly during the summer of 2008/09 by an experienced commercial operator. The cost of reinstating the track and refurbishing or replacing the train itself, saw the venture fail after a short trial,” said Council’s community facilities manager Terry McMillan.
Efforts to raise interest in the restoration of the track and train have also been unsuccessful. The Lions Club believes that the train is now not economically viable at this location and have taken steps to sell the useable plant and equipment.
Wainui Lions and the Adventure Playground Management Trust President Ken Huberts remembers the early days when operating the train was a good source of fundraising for Wainui Lions. “Much of the money raised was channelled back into playground. We worked with the Gisborne District Council and most years we could contribute new or updated pieces of play equipment."
“The train and operating equipment was second hand when we first set up so a lot of upkeep was needed to keep operating. Now large sections of the track are rusted and maintenance costs are too high. We have run the numbers past a few people and looked at some other options, but the bottom line is the train is not a viable operation. It has been a hard call as the train is a part of many Gisborne children’s history,” Mr Huberts added.
The Adventure Playground Reserve is partially situated on an old landfill site. It was developed as an adventure park with the help of the Gisborne Jaycees in 1974 and was officially opened in 1976. The present train station was built in 1992. In 1983 the Lions Club introduced bumper boats onto the lake.
The track will shortly be removed and will likely form a junior walking/cycling/fitness track around the park.