A ceremony to mark the beginning of construction for Marton's new $1.3 million playground took place early on Tuesday morning, and Marton Development Group's Lucy Skou said that the project was scheduled to get under way in the next two weeks.
The new playground will take the place of the original one that was built in Memorial Hall Park on Wellington Rod in 1951.
"We had a karakia this morning with Te Rūnanga o Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa, and Dr Mike Paki did the blessing," Skou said.
"We're breaking ground within the 10 next days."
Skou said that the final cost the playground was an increase from the original price tag of $1 million.
"There's design fees, construction, play equipment, matting, concrete, and fences, it all adds up.
"They (playgrounds) aren't cheap, but if you do it once and do it right then you'll be sorted for the foreseeable future."
The playground would feature a "one of a kind tower" with three slides, Skou said, that would be built by Playground Centre in Whanganui.
"It's massive and its the focal point of the playground. We've had the 3D pictures of it and it just looks amazing."
Skou said it had taken three years for the project to get to where it currently was, and she hoped the playground would be finished by the end of March.
"It's been 18 months since our designers, Aynsley Cisaria and Sarah Collins from Boffa Miskell, got on board. They are a leading landscape architecture firm who designed Anderson Park in Napier, which won 'Playground of the Year' at the Aotearoa Recreation Awards.
"Hopefully we'll be in contention for 'Playground of the Year' next year.
"We've employed Andy (McDonald) from Playtop NZ to be our lead contractor. He's a local, and the play equipment is coming through the Playground Centre in Whanganui. We've tried to keep everything as local as possible."
It was "very, very, hard" to raise money for a playground, Skou said.
"There are limited grants for it, and you need your council onboard if it's going to be on council-owned land.
"You need to do a lot of fundraising. We did a plank fundraiser, where we sold planks, and we did an online auction during lockdown because Covid-19 obviously put a dampener on any events we were looking at having.'
Sufficient money had been raised to allow the project to get under way, Skou said, but donations were still welcome from "anyone who wants to get involved".
"This project is completely community driven. Our council has contributed and supported it, but I'd say 90 per cent of the money has come from grants and very generous private donations.
"If it wasn't for them then it wouldn't be happening."
Skou said grants had been received from Dudding's Trust, Whanganui Community Foundation, and Four Regions Trust, and a further $60,000 had been raised through the plank fundraiser and online auction.
"Our community is growing, and there's so much development happening over here.
"Primarily, the playground is for our community, but if it attracts people off the main roads, or they're coming from Palmerston North and Whanganui and then spending their money here, the benefits are more than just a playground.
"The economic benefits are huge."
To donate to the project you can visit www.martondg.co.nz