Lord Mayor Darryn Causby is urging all of the community to avail of the facilities in the People’s Park - including members of the Protestant community who may have had concerns in the past.
Speaking to the Portadown Times this week, Cllr Causby acknowledged that he was one of the DUP councillors to raise concerns initially about the possibility of the park being a “genuine shared space”.
He said, “I stand by some of those concerns. We need to make sure that it is a genuine shared space and that we have tackled the anti-social element.
“I know a number of security measures have been introduced in the new park including CCTV cameras and that staff are on duty every day.
“The police have also put the park on their regular beat.”
Cllr Causby added, “To those people who are unsure, I would say ‘this is your chance to use a facility that you previously didn’t feel able to use’.
“You need to reclaim it as a shared space.
“I have spoken to some people who said they won’t use it but I have spoken to others who are determined to. They have heard their parents and grandparents talking about going to the park in the past and they want the same for their children now.
“There needs to be a degree of maturity around the issue and we must not be afraid to take on the issues when they arise.”
During a tour last week, architect Billy Wray from Hamilton Architects pointed out that another park in the province, which had previously suffered from anti-social behaviour, drug and knife crime, had been transformed during its major refurbishment and now attracts thousands of visitors a year.