SINGAPORE - Woodlands Town Garden opened in 1983 and in its latter years developed a seedy reputation for drug and vice-related activities.
After a 22-month makeover, it reopened on Sunday (April 29) with a new name and more facilities for locals to play, exercise and learn about nature.
Marsiling Park features improved lighting, new boardwalks and activity spaces such as a fitness corner and butterfly-shaped rope playground.
Popular elements of the park - such as the viewing tower, Chinese pavilions and stone bridge - have been retained and improved following a consultation exercise with locals.
A mangrove area along the park's western edge has also been restored and signs have been erected to inform visitors about the area.
Authorities hope the revamp will entice locals back to the park and it impressed many of the 800 who attended Sunday's relaunch.
"It's now cleaner, brighter and a lot more family friendly," said 51-year-old teacher Madam Rahidah Mohd Noor, who has lived in the area for 30 years. "Last time, people didn't visit often because it was quite swampy and dark."
Father of three and chef Mr Lam Chan Hoong, 35, added: "It used to be quite dark at night in the park, so we would only visit in the day time. There weren't many things for children to do either as there was only a small playground back then."
For pharmacist Lee Hei Ing, 38, the new play areas will mean more frequent trips to the revamped park for her children. "It used to be a bit run down, but with the many play areas, we are looking forward to spending more time here."
Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong, attended the opening along with advisors to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC Grassroots Organisation (GRO), Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Mr Alex Yam and Mr Ong Teng Koon.
Mr Wong said: "Over the years the park became older, in the last few years as you saw the media reports, there were some vice activities around the area. I think the feeling about this park was not so positive."
He added that the new park came about thanks to the hard work of former MP and now President, Madam Halimah Yacob, and also the Marsiling grassroots leaders and a team from the National Parks Board.
Mr Wong added: "We want to make full use of the amenities, so the Marsiling grassroots will organise more activities here."