After years of having ideas for it bounced around, and the threat of closure to facilitate the expansion of a military airbase, Sembawang Hot Spring will finally be spruced up.
The country's only natural hot spring on the mainland will soon be developed into the Sembawang Hot Spring Park. It will be 10 times its current size, with a cafe, toilets and a floral walk.
Construction will start early next year and works are expected to be completed by 2019, the National Parks Board (NParks) said yesterday. It added that it will look at how visitors can still access the spring water during construction.
When completed, visitors will be greeted by a walkway decked in golden trumpet and oleander flowers, befitting the park's kampung setting. Shrubs and climbers will surround the cafe to further integrate it with the surrounding greenery, and fruit trees like chiku and rambutan will be planted in the vicinity.
In place of the snaking central pipes and taps, from which the spring water runs, there will be a cascading pool which will help to cool down the water.
This will allow people to dip their legs directly into the pool. There are currently three access points to the spring water, which can reach nearly 70 deg C at the site where the cascading pool will be built.
Once completed, the pool will be equipped with a temperature meter and a naturalised stream will channel the used water from the pool into a drainage system. Those who want to collect the spring water in pails will be able to do so at a separate water collection point.
Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, who is an MP for Sembawang GRC, said at the unveiling of the plans: "We are a concrete jungle... to find a jewel like this in the middle of Singapore is really rare. So we are determined to keep this in the kampung spirit, with the kampung rustic feel."
The NParks is soliciting public feedback on the plans till Dec 10, and will make alterations if need be.
PLANS FOR THE HOT SPRING
• Expanding it to 10 times its current size
• A floral walk
• Cascading pool where visitors can enjoy a foot bath in the hot spring water
• Area with running hot spring water for cooking eggs
• Water collection point
• New amenities, including a washroom and cafe
• Sheltered seating areas SCAN TO WATCH Director of park
development Ang Chiean Hong on what to expect. http://str.sg/okYw
The hot spring currently sits on the grounds of Sembawang Air Base, and is open to the public from 7am to 7pm.
The spring was discovered in 1909 by Chinese merchant Seah Eng Keong, and people claim that its water can cure rheumatism, and heal skin problems such as psoriasis.
Although the public had mixed feelings when news emerged earlier this year that the site was to be developed into a park, most visitors to the spring yesterday gave positive feedback. "There is nothing wrong with making it look prettier. In fact, it would be great if more people get to know about it because of that and come to benefit from it," said retiree Lim Chu Sun, 69, who was visiting the site for the second time from Yishun.
She suggested having a space for people to completely submerge themselves in the water.
Madam Chris Goh, 56, a patient service associate, is open to the development plans but said she is happy with how it is now.
A daily visitor to the spring, she is looking forward to the toilets as she currently uses a towel to shield herself when she bathes with the spring water. "My only request is that they don't cover the drains. I often lie on the gratings as I feel that the steam rising from the water helps to improve my blood circulation."
Members of the public can log on to www.nparks.gov.sg/sembawang hotspringpark to view the plans and give their feedback.