THE newly-established Taman Areca in Lebuh Sungai Pinang 7 is a fine model for the state government to transform idle open spaces into such a beautiful recreation park, says Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.
He said the initiative to make Penang cleaner and greener was conceptualised in 2008 and if there were criticisms from certain quarters, the establishment of pocket parks and neighbourhood parks have certainly brought much benefit to residents nearby.
And in August 2018, Chow launched the Penang2030 vision for a ‘Family Focused Green and Smart State that Inspires the Nation’.
“I hope that with the existence of parks like this, it will provide more options and benefits to the people to enjoy public infrastructure facilities for leisure and recreational activities, thereby creating a healthy and safe community,” Chow said in his speech before officiating the opening of Taman Areca today.
He commended Penang Stadium Corporation and Open Spaces (SCOS) for successfully creating Taman Areca, which was their pilot project.
He also said the project was made possible by the public engagements conducted by Sungai Pinang assemblyman Lim Siew Khim, state Youth and Sports Committee chairman Soon Lip Chee, Penang Women’s Development Corporation, the Village Community Management Council and the Penang Island City Council.
He said the construction cost of the 3.2-acre park was almost RM1.52 million through open tender.
The Penang SCOS, he said, has a few projects in mind and one of them is to set up a Taman Rimba WoodHAVEN in central Seberang Perai which would have camping facilities as well as programmes for family recreation.
Chow noted that the Taman Areca also incorporated eight sustainable development goals.
In a light vein, he said he got ‘cold sweat’ when Penang SCOS executive director Mohamed Akbar Mustapha asked the MBPP and the Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) to surrender more assets to Penang SCOS.
Chow said the problem would be high maintenance cost but added that if PSCOS received more assets, then they would have to seek financial assistance from federal agencies to manage them.
Mohamed Akbar said PSCOS currently has obtained seven assets from MBPP and MBSP.
He added that Taman Areca would be a case study as a venue, themed “People’s Space, Better City and Better Life” when the World Cities Day is celebrated on Oct 31, 2022.
“This Taman Areca is like a mini Botanic Gardens, in the heart of town.
“We have planted 404 trees, including 30 species of Alma, and 25,059 shrubs with 45 species,” Mohamed Akbar said.
He added that several types of native Penang trees, like Jelutong, Gelugor and Ara trees, have also been planted in the park.
So far, they have planted four Sonneratia Caseolaris trees (Pokok Berembang) or mangrove trees to test if fireflies can be attracted to them there.
Other components in the park include Silver Garden, Butterfly Garden, Family Square, Outdoor Fitness Station and Children Playground.
Lim said the plan is to have a riverine garden as an additional attraction at the park.
She also praised some of the residents for being involved in urban farming at the park.
To make it more exciting for the locals and tourists, she said a Little Areca Market would be held every last Saturday and Sunday of the month where crafts and other handiworks could be sold.
The opening of Taman Areca was also a proud moment for Oong Choong Yang, 25, who won a prize of RM1,000 for being the winner in the park naming contest.
“I did a research and found that this area once had a lot of Areca trees, hence the name Taman Areca,” said Oong, who works in a legal firm.
Also physically present at the opening of the Taman Areca were state executive councillor Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain, state Finance Officer Datuk Dr Mohamad Farazi Johari, Jelutong MP R.S.N. Rayer, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) deputy director (Operations) Dr Noor Azlin Yahya, several state assemblymen and MBPP and MBSP councillors.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Law Suun Ting
Video by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis