Wilton Lodge Park regeneration project manager Scott Castle has pledged to keep townsfolk well informed on work being carried out.
In an interview with the Hawick News, Mr Castle, of Edinburgh consultants Thomas & Adamson, also outlined further details of the much-needed improvements to the area around the museum and the Gilbert Davidson fountain.
He admitted that the initial plan for the area in front of the museum was “brutal” and instantly rejected as “unacceptable”. There will be extended hard landscaping and a much larger area set aside to accommodate more parking space for disabled visitors.
Next year will be the last time the 11-island beds will be as they have been in the past but he stressed that future planning will be done with consultation with various groups, including the Hawick in Bloom volunteers.
It was put to him rather than all the small individual beds, one large display could present a better impact. He said this could be looked at.
Opening up a vista from the museum across to the river will be undertaken in 2016/17 with the removal, or as Mr Castle put it, “management of the trees”. However, he conceded that there are some exceptional specimens, and again this will be done with consultation.
One tree in particular is of historical importance: a weeping elm. This was planted in 1815 by James Anderson, who bought the mansion house in 1805 in memory of his only son, Allan, who died at the early age of eight years.
Another area designated for major change is the Gilbert Davidson foundation – and this will surely be welcomed by townspeople and visitors alike. This part will be completely redesigned and improved to make it accessible to disabled people.
Plans have also been prepared for an extensive improvement in the area to the rear of the war memorial, presently signed as the ‘Scented Garden’ but has long since lost this theme through neglect. It was opened in 1985 for the blind and elderly following support from the Rotary Club, Management Services and Roxburgh District Council.
Mr Castle said: “To open up the site, the trees will be removed and, once renovated, it will be an education area in conjunction with the museum; in other words, an outdoor classroom for children.”
There will be seating, a grassed area and some planting, and it will be opened by April next year. Given the state this area is in at the moment, this work will be welcomed.
In the discussions with Mr Castle, he has gone a long way in allaying the concerns expressed by many townspeople that Wilton Lodge Park is going to be destroyed.
Yes, some areas will be different, but once the five-year project is complete, the end result will be a park for young and old, for recreation, for learning and a place to enjoy nature throughout the seasons.
Also, and what has been pointed out many times when Mr Castle has been explaining the transformation, Scottish Borders Council, as a part contributor to the funding package, is committed to ensure the management and upkeep of the scheme for a further ten years following the completion of the five-year project.