Punggol Promenade: Get closer to nature

Besides enjoying water views, you can visit Lorong Halus Wetland via Punggol Promenade
nicholas yong Straits Times 12 Mar 11;

Cycling around the newly opened portion of the $16.7-million Punggol Promenade, located along the eastern bank of Serangoon Reservoir, brings back memories, says freelance musician Christopher Pang, 44.

Groundbreaking for the riverfront recreational area took place in 2009.

'There used to be a lot of sampans moving up and down Sungei Serangoon in the 1970s, and there was a charcoal port at Lorong Halus. We also used to fish here a lot,' says Mr Pang, who has lived in the Upper Serangoon area all his life.

The estuary of Sungei Serangoon was dammed in 2009 to form the reservoir.

The 4.9km promenade has been designated a recreational space for residents in the area. It also links Punggol Point to Punggol East and joins up further south with the park connectors along Serangoon Reservoir and Punggol Reservoir.

Only its Riverside Walk portion is accessible at the moment.

Officially opened last Saturday, it is just a short walk from Riviera LRT station. Three food and beverage outlets - a bistro, a seafood restaurant and a fast-food outlet - have also opened in the area.

The Riverside Walk features exercise stations, designated cycling and jogging tracks and lookout points that allow visitors to get closer to the water.

The next phase of construction will include a driving range and other facilities.

Two other zones, the Nature Walk and Punggol Point Walk, are expected to open later in the year.

Mr Pang's friend, retiree Lee Jing Heng, has also lived in the area for decades. The 64-year-old jokes: 'I might not be long in this world. I don't know whether I will be around when they finish construction.'

Nature lovers will also be drawn to the promenade. It is connected by a bridge over Serangoon Reservoir to Lorong Halus Wetland, a biodiversity haven for flora and fauna such as the White- breasted Waterhen and the Striated Heron, also known as the Little Heron.

Formerly part of a landfill, it has been converted into an educational site and aims to be a sanctuary for plants, birds and other wildlife.

Even though the promenade is still a work in progress, Mr Pang was impressed by the changes that have taken place: 'It's beautiful. If you love nature, this is the place to be, besides Sungei Buloh.'

Despite opening just a week ago, the Riverside Walk has already attracted residents from as far afield as the west coast, such as engineer Chia C.C. and his wife Janet, both 60.

The couple, who enjoy visiting parks such as Lorong Seletar, had come to the promenade after reading about it in The Straits Times.

'It's money well spent. It's free for us and you don't have to pay to have a good view. It's also very well-planned as it is right next to the LRT,' says Mrs Chia, a teacher.

Mr Chia adds: 'There is limited parking now but once the park connectors are ready, it will be very convenient.'

But Punggol resident David Teo, 52, was not overly impressed by the Riverside Walk. The supervisor in a student care centre had cycled down to 'recce' the area, as he was looking for a place to celebrate his teenage daughter's birthday.

Perspiring in the midday heat, he notes: 'There is not much shelter here, and it is barren and not very developed now. I don't see how families with young children will come here.'