Park aims to erad­i­cate drug use and bring neigh­bours to­gether

The Star Early Edition - - METRO WATCH - ILANIT CHERNICK

THERE was ex­cite­ment and ju­bi­la­tion in the air as the re­cently re­fur­bished Ekhaya Park in Hill­brow was un­veiled by the mem­ber of the may­oral com­mit­tee (MMC) for com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, Nonhlanhla Si­fumba, on Wed­nes­day.

The un­veil­ing was done as part of the city’s World En­vi­ron­ment Week cel­e­bra­tions.

The R1.4 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment in­cluded the in­stal­la­tion of a full-size syn­thetic soc­cer field, a new ablu­tion block, park fur­ni­ture em­bed­ded with a chess board and ta­ble tennis, a themed play­ground for tod­dlers, land­scaped lawns and mu­rals.

With Hill­brow be­com­ing a well-known hub for drugs and crime, the City of Joburg hopes that such ini­tia­tives will cre­ate a safe space for chil­dren and fam­i­lies alike.

“I drove in here to­day and it took me back to the days when Hill­brow, was the place to be,” Si­fumba said.

“I want those days back, when we could safely dance the night away with­out be­ing ac­costed on the street, or have a wed­ding down the road in Jou­bert Park, or watch the chil­dren play with­out a care in the world, in the neigh­bour­hood parks,” she said.

“We have a few more years to go be­fore we can re­store our in­ner city spa­ces and trans­form them into mul­ti­func­tional, well man­aged, green, clean and safe parks. How­ever, as I stand here, in the newly-re­fur­bished Ekhaya Park, sur­rounded by high-rise build­ings and to­gether with a ded­i­cated com­mu­nity that is com­mit­ted to re­claim­ing our spa­ces – I have hope,” Si­fumba em­pha­sised.

Si­fumba made it clear that de­vel­op­ing safe parks is also a com­plex is­sue that must be thought through from the de­sign phase, to­gether with com­mu­nity in­volve­ment; sup­port­ing main­te­nance pro­grammes and reg­u­lar recre­ation ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Park safety is of para­mount im­por­tance for Joburg’s City Parks and the Zoo (JCPZ), who are re­spon­si­ble for the main­te­nance of the fa­cil­ity, how­ever it re­quires the need for com­mu­ni­ties to be­come closely in­volved in the parks’ ev­ery­day use and pro­tec­tion, to en­sure that these spa­ces are sus­tained,” she said.

JCPZ said that the lo­cal sub­con­trac­tors in­volved in both projects cre­ated jobs for six-months, with a to­tal num­ber of 13 small, medium and mi­cro-sized en­ter­prises, 16 ex­panded pub­lic works pro­grammes and 12 ben­e­fi­cia­ries be­ing em­pow­ered from the lo­cal com­mu­nity dur­ing the con­struc­tion process.

The fully-en­closed, newly-de­vel­oped park is a wel­come sight for res­i­dents liv­ing in the tow­er­ing high­rise apart­ments ad­ja­cent to the new park.

“The lux­ury of sprawl­ing open spa­ces to en­able com­mu­ni­ties to con­nect with na­ture, and to bring res­i­dents to­gether, are non-ex­is­tent due to low-cost in­ner city den­si­fi­ca­tion in Hill­brow and its sur­round­ing ar­eas. It is there­fore crit­i­cal that the spread of ur­ban de­gen­er­a­tion is averted in the parks in the in­ner city,” Si­fumba high­lighted.

As we mark World En­vi­ron­ment Week, Si­fumba said that we are re­minded why parks are as im­por­tant, es­pe­cially in Hill­brow where we do not have the lux­ury of pri­vate gar­dens.

“These spa­ces bring us in con­tact with na­ture and with our neigh­bours, It’s a meet­ing place for our teenagers and it will al­low our chil­dren to play rather than stay­ing glued to a TV. Over the last few years I have wit­nessed how new fa­cil­i­ties such as Atwell Gar­dens were van­dalised – how­ever I have also wit­nessed that no mat­ter what the state of a park and the drug in­fested Pullinger Kop bears tes­ti­mony to that – that it can be re­claimed for the use of chil­dren,” she added.

Si­fumba com­mended the Ekhaya Neigh­bour­hood Im­prove­ment District for es­tab­lish­ing a fo­rum with busi­ness, Bad Boyz Se­cu­rity, lo­cal schools, SAPS, JCPZ and the com­mu­nity to re­claim the park, which was be­set with prob­lems of grime, petty crime, van­dal­ism and sub­stance abusers, and ac­knowl­edged their out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion by pre­sent­ing the fo­rum with an award for ex­cep­tional ser­vice to the com­mu­nity. @Lanc_02

DE­VEL­OP­MENT: The brand new, themed play­grounds for chil­dren and tod­dlers.

MMC for Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Nonhlanla Si­fumba tak­ing part in a cer­e­mo­nial tree plant­ing at the launch of the newly re­fur­bished Ekhaya Park. Pic­ture: Sup­plied

The newly in­stalled full size syn­thetic soc­cer field at the re­cently re­fur­bished Ekhaya Park in Hill­brow. Pic­ture: Sup­plied

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