Proposed Unity Park elements should not detract from the charm of Reservoir Park
RESERVOIR Park is one of the places in Kuching I associate with my childhood.
My parents used to take my sister and me to the playground there, where I remember playing on the swings and see-saw and occasionally venturing on the climbing frame. It was a scenic little playground on one of the park’s upper slopes, surrounded by big leafy trees and with views stretching down to the man-made lake in the centre of the park.
We also went for strolls along its tree-lined paths, sometimes bringing with us a bit of bread to feed the fish in the lake. We would watch in fascination as the fish came to the surface to nibble at the bits of bread. Ah, the simple amusements of childhood!
Reservoir Park has always been a popular spot among locals. People go there to jog or walk on its undulating paths around the lake, or simply to enjoy an outing in its green surroundings. It is also much in demand among couples as a wedding shoot location thanks to its pretty scenery.
Not really being an outdoors type though, I haven’t visited the park much in recent years.
So when I happened to go there for an interview appointment this week, I was pleased to see that Reservoir Park remains a peaceful oasis of lush greenery in the city. Its grassy slopes are still shaded by large trees, their leaves scattered on the paths beneath. The wooden arched bridge across the lake is still there, painted in red and white.
I have to say I was also pleasantly surprised at how well-kept the park was. The place looked quite clean and neat and I could hear a grass cutter buzzing in the distance.
A hardy jogger was running round the park in the afternoon heat while a group of friends were enjoying a picnic on one of the slopes overlooking the lake. Several more people came along for a bit of exercise towards evening, so it seems that it is still attracting regular visitors.
There are now plans to turn Reservoir Park into a Unity Park befitting Kuching’s status as a City of Unity.
Lead implementing agency Kuching North City Hall (DBKU), which looks after the park in any case, recently held a workshop to get input from local communities on the proposed Unity Park.
Emphasising inclusiveness, Kuching North mayor Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai said it should cater to everyone, from the young to the old, and reflect the multicultural harmony among the state’s different ethnic groups.
He also said DBKU planned to extend the park to include the surrounding areas and old government buildings. Reservoir Park and the nearby Amphitheatre occupy 13ha; DBKU would like to acquire another 5.7ha for the project.
It is a nice idea to expand the park into a designated Unity Park, especially in these times when some people seem to need physical reminders to live in peace and harmony with their fellow Malaysians.
But to be honest, I don’t think much needs to be done to Reservoir Park itself. The lake, which has a greenish colour and gives off a slight odour when you step close to it, could perhaps be cleaner and some of the benches could do with a facelift.
But on the whole it is a pleasant enough place. Any changes to incorporate Unity Park elements should be done tastefully to enhance its existing charm, not detract from it in any way. It would be a real shame if any of the trees or greenery had to make way for any new structures to be built.
Perhaps, the new Unity Park elements can be put up in the proposed extended area and include natural features like a botanical or herb garden.
Also, while the new park is meant to showcase multicultural unity and harmony, it should not lose sight of its purpose as a recreational space for city folk and families to enjoy. Its design should ultimately serve this purpose to be able to keep attracting visitors.
I do not use the word iconic lightly but that is what Reservoir Park is to Kuching, with its instantly recognisable arched bridge and all. Let’s keep it that way for future generations.