Wed, Jan 02, 2013 - Page 12 News List

A walk in the park

Greater Taichung’s recently built Maple Garden Park features gravel and chip trails, a sunken pond and spectacular night views of the city

By John Evans  /  Contributing reporter

A view of Greater Taichung’s recently built Maple Leaf Park by night.

Photo courtesy of the Taichung City Government

If you visit Maple Garden Park leave the high heels at home. The newly opened three-hectare park in the northwest corner of Greater Taichung was designed to be a little different.

Gravel and wood chip pathways, instead of the usual concrete, winding around the central pond are just some of the park’s unique features. And then there’s the serpentine bridge constructed of metal, glass and stone. But first, before you even stroll through the park you actually have to walk down into it.

Built around a flood-control retention pond, the park itself is nearly nine meters below street level. The result, visitors say, is a quieter, more tranquil park.

“It’s wonderful,” said first-time visitor Maggie Wang (王美玲). Wang and her husband, Cliff Chen (陳建宏), brought their 2-year-old son, Zack Chen (陳彥均), to romp outside.

“It has lots of space to run around, especially after all of these rainy days,” Wang said. “We’ll come back soon.”

The park’s unique layout, by Taipei-based Arctangent Architecture and Design, is a first in Taiwan, said Cheng Hsi-hsi (鄭錫禧), executive officer of the city’s Economic Development Bureau. Cheng credits Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) with coming up with the park’s unique features after visiting Hyde Park in London.

Located on the corner of Taiwan Boulevard (臺灣大道) and Henan Road (河南路), the park, which also features a restaurant, has a NT$271 million price tag.

The Maple Garden name comes from its landscaping. Leaves from the young green maples and sweet gum trees are expected to change with the seasons, Cheng said.

Cheng said that the park has been popular with young couples. At night a romantic mood is created, he said, with the lights from the surrounding tall buildings reflected off the ponds.

The response has been overwhelmingly in favor, Cheng said, citing a 95 percent approval rate.

However, one of those questioning the cost of the park is Hank Liu (劉逸帆) of Taichung, who said, “It’s nice but when I found out how much they spent, I don’t think it was worth it.”

Holding hands on a recent afternoon stroll, Fiona Yu (余亭儀) and her boyfriend Philip Kuo (郭俊瑋) seemed indifferent to the cost. Instead their focus was on courtship.

The couple were in town from Taoyuan to celebrate Yu’s 27th birthday. Their plan: An arm-in-arm walk around the park and then lunch at a nearby Korean restaurant.

“It’s wonderful. It’s not too crowded,” she said. “It’s very romantic.”

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