Marsiling Park Now Has A Butterfly Playground, But It Used To Have A Seedy Reputation

The spruced-up, newly-named Marsiling Park reopened on Sunday (29 Apr).

New amenities such as boardwalks, a fitness corner and a unique rope playground resembling a butterfly were installed, to the joy of residents.

Butterfly-shaped playground
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However, the ulu park used to be infamous for playing host to a variety of less than reputable activities — including the vice trade, and acting as a secret meet-up place for romantic trysts or drug deals.

A shady reputation

In the past, residents were afraid to visit it during the day. Each night, prostitutes allegedly plied the park.

The grounds then also supported a booming vice-laden industry, with the carpark fully occupied by vans and lorries who parked overnight.

Competition for business was so strong that vice services were offered for only $30.

A check conducted by The Straits Times in 2015, before the renovation of the park began, revealed that Woodlands Town Park was sometimes used as a place for strangers to meet up for trysts.

Adding on to the already seedy reputation, the park even played host to numerous drug-related activities.

Efforts to attract residents failed

As a result, law enforcement was stepped up in the area.

NParks said it was trying to enhance safety by pruning vegetation, improving lighting and removing shelters to remove covers for the illegal activities.

But residents were not convinced.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Madam Lim Guat Thoe – a long-time resident in the area – had witnessed the park in its heyday as a popular outing spot back in 1983.

But described the park as “dirty and very unsightly“, before the revamp.

Following the 2015 General Election, newly elected Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC’s MP Halimah Yacob determined that extra policing of the area was not a long-term solution.

She explained that the police could not be there everyday,

What happens is a cat-and-mouse game that these perpetrators play, where they will disperse when the police patrol the area and then reconvene when they are gone.

Thankfully, it seems like efforts to revamp the area have paid off.

Now let’s take a look at some of the new amenities that residents can look forward to.

An amphitheater & iconic Chinese pavilions

Spaces for community activities, including an amphitheater and an activity plaza, have now been introduced in the park.

However, iconic features of the former Woodlands Town Gardens have been preserved.

An elegant Chinese pavilion
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These include the Chinese pavilions, stone bridge and viewing tower.

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Mangrove reserve with 1,000 saplings

Additionally, a mangrove area has been revitalized.

Critically endangered local mangrove species have been reintroduced to the stretch.

Over 1,000 saplings of mangrove species Api Api and White Teruntum were planted, in a bid to boost the ecology of the area.

Api Api (left) and White Teruntum (right)
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No longer “swampy and dark”

Residents were also grateful for the improved lighting in the park.

This is because the park used to be “swampy and dark”, as teacher Madam Rahidah Mohd Noor describes it.

Now, she describes it as “cleaner, brighter and a lot more family friendly”.

Happily ever after

The park’s revamp has definitely been well-received, with 800 people attending the re-opening of the park.

A future home to Marsiling grassroots activities, we’re excited to see that Marsiling Park has definitely gained a new lease of life.

Let us know what you think about the newly refurbished park in the comments below.

Featured picture from Great New Places and The Straits Times.