THE Friends of Hermitage Park have acknowledged the frustration among people in Helensburgh at the long delays to the completion of major work in the park – and have admitted that no-one is feeling it more than they are.

The Friends were responding to a letter published in the July 11 edition of the Advertiser in which two Helensburgh residents complained the park was "in a worse state than we ever remembered it to be".

The group's chair, Fiona Baker, says the lion's share of the blame lies in an eight-month delay to completion of the park's Passivhaus pavilion – and says the Friends still hope to have a 'Party in the Park' next year to celebrate the completion of the £3.3 million regeneration.

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In a letter published in the Advertiser's July 18 print edition, Ms Baker said: "There is one overriding reason that the park project has been in the doldrums and is running a year late, and that is the eight month delay in delivery of the pavilion build.

"The final landscape works could not commence until the pavilion was finally signed off by Hoskins Architects and by Argyll and Bute Council’s building standards and planning officials, and until it secured health and safety approval and obtained Passivhaus accreditation.

"This has delayed the activity plan, the gardening, the opening and the whole momentum of the project for the Friends and whole community.

"Nobody is more frustrated than the park manager, and the Friends, to have the whole well-planned project so knocked out of kilter by the pavilion build overrun."

Argyll and Bute Council set a closing date of Friday, July 12 for bids to run the Pavilion at an indicative rental of £18,000 a year for 10 years.

READ MORE: Deadline set for bids to run new Hermitage Park pavilion

In her letter, Ms Baker said recent incidents of vandalism in the park might not have happened to the same extent if the work had run to schedule and enabled the Friends to move on with their plan of activities in the park.

The Friends are hoping to raise £10,000 in an online crowdfunder at to meet the cost of installing CCTV in the park to improve security and reduce incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Ms Baker also revealed that the Friends had planned, and missed, two formal opening dates for the park as a result of the over-running pavilion work, and was now adopting a "wait and see" approach.

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She continued: "We feel the vandalism in the park is worse than it might have been, had we been able to get on with delivering the ‘activity plan’ final phase of the project.

"Now it is another issue we need to address by a combination of our CCTV appeal and by continuing engagement with the young people who congregate in the park.

"However, we are where we are, and we are all working hard behind the scenes trying to raise more money and deliver the Park we all hope to have."

The cost of the project is being met by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which provided a grant of £2.3 million, Sustrans (£300,000), the MoD's Armed Forces Covenant (£253,000), the War Memorial Trust (£60,000), and the Friends of Hermitage Park Association (£20,000), along with £280,000 from Argyll and Bute Council's reserves.

The funding package is completed by volunteer support in kind which is estimated to be worth £129,340.

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She added: "We do hope that we will have a ‘Party in the Park’ in spring 2020 – surely all the builders will have left by then, and we will have a winter to start gardening and planting the hundreds of plants we have in nursery conditions off site.

"We should have been doing this last autumn and winter.

"We are exactly halfway through the five year HLF project.

"We knew this was not always going to be easy and restoring Hermitage Park was a mammoth task and not a quick fix.

"We greatly appreciate the patience and support of the community in Helensburgh, and we understand why folk are frustrated at how long it is taking.

"Please continue to be patient. Things are happening apace again now, after the long hiatus of the pavilion, and we hope disappointment will turn to approval."