Tuesday 27 October 2015

Jurong Lake Gardens take shape with public's ideas

17,700 suggestions offered; completion date of west side pushed to 2018 to work in residents' views and feedback
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 26 Oct 2015

The upcoming Jurong Lake Gardens will have features such as cycling tracks, a community gardening area, and food and beverage outlets - ideas gathered during public consultations earlier this year.

Other suggestions to be implemented include the preserving of biodiversity hot spots, the planting of seasonal flowering trees and the provision of play and fitness areas.

Existing heritage structures such as pagodas and bridges in the Chinese and Japanese Gardens will be retained, the National Parks Board (NParks) said yesterday.

Over 17,700 ideas were received from April to May during public engagements such as focus groups, townhalls and online surveys.

As a result of including the most recent public feedback, construction for the west side of the 90ha gardens, which will start next year, is expected to be completed by 2018 instead of 2017 as previously announced, said NParks.

"There is more work required both in design and ensuring that the residents' views and feedback are taken into account fully," Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said at a tree-planting event at Jurong Lake Park yesterday.

"This is going to be a people's garden, so it is really great that we got so many views from the public," added Mr Tharman, who is also an MP for Jurong GRC. "It is our third national gardens - it is very important that it reflects what people want, what they like to see, what they like to feel in the gardens."

The two other national gardens are the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay.

The Jurong Lake Gardens, about the size of 144 football fields, will comprise three parts: Jurong Lake Gardens West, Central and East.

The west side is currently Jurong Lake Park, while the central area will consist of the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. The east side will house the new Science Centre.

Parts of the west side will remain open to the public during its construction, and special pathways will let the public continue accessing the Chinese and Japanese Gardens before development works there begin. The central and east parts of the gardens will be progressively ready from 2020.

A design consultancy tender for the gardens will be called, and NParks will include the public feedback received in the tender brief.

Other ideas that may be implemented include robotic plants, vertical greenery, Wi-Fi hot spots and solar phone chargers.

Mr Tharman noted that there was a very strong public preference to retain the area's natural ambience, and that the new gardens will have "a lot more nature", such as distinctive trees and a heron island.

Plans for the Jurong Lake Gardens are part of a larger transformation of the Jurong Lake District - the largest regional hub outside the city centre. Public transport systems such as road and rail will be enhanced to support the area's development.

Lakeside resident and childcare teacher Jaslyn Goh, 43, said she is looking forward to the fitness and play corners. Said the avid jogger and mother of three: "It is good to have a playground for kids while their parents exercise, so the children won't be bored."

Over 17,700 suggestions were gathered from the Jurong Lake Gardens public engagement exercise. Thank you for...
Posted by NParks - Let's Make Singapore Our Garden on Saturday, October 24, 2015

Singapore to get its own 'cherry blossoms'
Seasonal flowering trees to be planted at the future Jurong Lake Gardens
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 26 Oct 2015

Singapore will soon have "sakura blossoms" in its backyard, as trees with pink, white and purple flowers are set to dot parts of the upcoming Jurong Lake Gardens.

The west side of the gardens will be lined with seasonal flowering trees such as the Malayan crepe myrtle, the rosy trumpet tree and the pink mempat.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday likened these tropical plants to Japan's famous sakura, or cherry blossom trees. "Soon, we can have our own 'cherry blossom festival'," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Mr Wong, who is also the chairman of the Jurong Lake District steering committee, said there will be a "deliberate effort" to plant more flowering trees at Jurong Lake Gardens.

He noted that the National Parks Board (NParks) had received many suggestions to plant such trees. These trees usually flower in February, March, August and September.

When Singapore first embarked on its greening journey 50 years ago, trees such as the rain tree and angsana were favoured for the shade they provide, Mr Wong wrote.

"Later, in the 80s, we started planting colourful flowers and foliage to add vibrancy to our landscape. Today, lovely floral blooms can be seen along our roads and in our parks and gardens," he added.

Yesterday, Mr Wong, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and residents in Jurong planted 50 flowering trees at Jurong Lake Park - the site of the future Jurong Lake Gardens West.

The planting was part of the Clean and Green SG50 Mass Tree Planting project, which aims to plant more than 5,000 trees from August to December in celebration of Singapore's Golden Jubilee.

Mr Tharman and Mr Wong planted a Malayan crepe myrtle - a colourful tree that can grow up to 18m high. Its young, coppery-red leaves turn green on maturity, while its flowers range from mauve to pale pink and creamy white.

Mr Tharman said that such tropical variants of the cherry blossom will give a "very nice tinge" to the western side of the gardens.

He also noted that the mempat tree, which will be planted at the gardens, was the first tree that the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew planted at the now-defunct Farrer Circus in June 1963.

Stressing the gardens' focus on preserving nature, Mr Tharman added that NParks is working with national water agency PUB to ensure that Jurong Lake is kept clean.

He said: "We do have a problem every time there is a heavy rain, that a lot of the silt comes in, and you can see it looks brown."

Taman Jurong resident Murugesan Natanaprakasam, 46, welcomed these moves.

The technician and father of a six-year-old boy said: "More plants are good. It will be more relaxing when we walk here, and I can teach my son about plants and animals."

Soon we can have our own “cherry blossom” festival! This morning, I joined DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam and residents of...
Posted by Lawrence Wong on Saturday, October 24, 2015

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