Source: Buletin Mutiara

Youths (and by extension, the general population) are more likely to visit parks and engage in sports and recreation if these recreational spaces are in close proximity to their homes.[1] Therefore, government efforts to foster healthy habits in the community and encourage the use of public amenities should centre on upgrading existing neighbourhood parks as well as building more that can service pockets of communities in the vicinity of their residences.

Taman Areca is a 1.21-hectare land in Lebuh Sungai Pinang 7 that has been turned into a green space complete with a tree bank area, benches, pavilion, playground, youth cross training area, and outdoor gym. It features several gardens, each with its own theme, such as a community garden, Silver Garden, a sculpture garden, and even a butterfly garden. On top of that, 404 trees, including 30 species of Alma, several native Penang trees, such as Jelutong, Gelugor, and Ara as well as four mangrove trees  (Pokok Berembang) have been planted in an attempt to lure fireflies to the park.

Source: Buletin Mutiara

The RM1.52mil project is Penang Stadium Corporation and Open Spaces’ (PSCOS) pilot project and a collaborative effort among Sungai Pinang assemblywoman Lim Siew Khim, state Youth and Sports Committee chairman Soon Lip Chee, PWDC, the Village Community Management Council, and the Penang Island City Council.

Aimed at creating an urban garden and park suited to the needs of the community, the state, PWDC, and PSCOS engaged the local community with a focus group session where they collected input from the participants and kickstarted the project in October 2020.

Residents have since started an urban farm in the park. According to Lim Siew Khim, there are also future plans to put in a riverine garden as well as hold a Little Areca Market every last Saturday and Sunday of the month where crafts and other handiworks could be sold.

“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,” said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who had officiated the opening of Taman Areca. The park, which incorporates eight United Nations sustainable development goals according to Chow, is another initiative to make Penang cleaner and greener as espoused in his Penang2030 vision.

[1] Au-Yong, Cheong Peng, Z. R. (2016). What brings youth to recreational parks? Journal of the Malaysian Institute of Planners, 15(5), 67–80.