East Coast Park will be upgraded with more open spaces and amenities when improvement works at three sites are completed by end-2019, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced yesterday.
The sites where the former Goldkist Chalets, Big Splash and Raintree Cove are located will be turned into nodes - centres of activity for people to congregate around - that will help spread out human traffic to the other parts of the park.
The park - Singapore's largest and most frequented - is visited an average of 7.5 million times each year. Currently, the most popular area for park visitors is at Marine Cove, which was redeveloped and opened to the public in June last year.
Said NParks' group director of parks development Kartini Omar: "Our focus right now is on this area because it is currently heavily used, very well utilised and very crowded. A lot of Singaporeans can testify that this area can become very congested, especially during weekends and public holidays.
"Therefore, we see this need to redistribute and spread out the crowds and reduce congestion in these high-activity zones so everyone can have a better experience at the park."
The former Goldkist Chalets will become a new bicycle park with "cycle-through" food and beverage offerings, workshop spaces and cycling circuits. It will serve as a pit stop for cyclists using the 150km Round Island Route, said NParks' statement. Personal mobility device users are also welcome to use this cyclist park.
WHAT'S IN STORE
GOLDKIST CHALETS: Bicycle park with "cycle-through" food and beverage outlets , workshop spaces and cycling circuits
RAINTREE COVE: Open lawns for sports and leisure activities.
BIG SPLASH (above): Water play area and vertical playground
Raintree Cove, where the iconic Long Beach Main Seafood Restaurant used to be, will feature open lawns for sporting or leisure activities, providing respite from the crowded Marine Cove nearby.
The revamped Big Splash site will feature a water play area that the former theme park was once known for, along with a vertical playground that comes equipped with regular slides. This playground will be converted from the existing Big Splash building.
In all, around 8ha of land will be redeveloped and progressively completed by 2019.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong launched an exhibition showcasing the improvement works at the park's Parkland Green, also another recent redevelopment across Parkway Parade mall, yesterday.
Said ESM Goh: "NParks has done well to transform our recreational landscape and parklands, to enhance Singaporeans' mental and physical well-being. My challenge to NParks is to make East Coast Park a beloved national icon and transcendent experience."
Some frequent parkgoers, like software engineer Matt Yong, 28, said the changes to spread out human traffic at the park might work, but the construction period means he will be deprived of his favourite spot in the park - Big Splash - for around two years.
But others hailed the move to rejuvenate older icons like Big Splash for a younger crowd.
Said retiree Ong An Heng, 70, who used to visit the former water theme park with his family: "My grandchildren don't even know that the building has a nice history. It was the first water park in Singapore. I'm happy it may be seen as one again."