Don’t ‘park’ off here

Loevenstein Crime Watch wants a walking and mountain-biking trail at the park.

Loevenstein Crime Watch wants to build a fence around a park in the area to keep out homeless people, whom, it says, are stopping the park from being enjoyed by all.

Plans for the Loevenstein Park on the corner of Uys Krige Drive and Mike Pienaar Boulevard, include a picnic area as well as trails for jogging, walking and mountain biking.

The first phase of the project saw 16 trees planted last year. However, about R28 000 is needed to pay for the second phase: a fence with an unlocked gate.

Watch member Hennie Koekemoer said that in 2015, residents had backed the proposal to develop the park enthusiastically and he hoped they would now be prepared to put money into the project.

After the plans were presented to Ward 70 councillor Andrea Crous, the watch received
R40 000 from the 2014/2015 budget which it used to plant the trees.

Mr Koekemoer said a further R80 000 had been raised in ward allocations for the 2015/2016 financial year. But the watch was still short R28 000 because City Parks had dipped into the R80 000 to go ahead with the car-parking plans, cordoning off the area with palisade wood poles.

Ms Crous said she had been able to allocate a portion of her ward funds to the project after it had been approved by City Parks.

“Every ward only receives a R700 000 ward allocation per year. This must be used on local projects in the ward,” she said.

Ms Crous said a fence, along with security cameras in the area, would help to protect the park and keep homeless people out so that it could be used as a recreational space for the community.

“The plan will allow residents to use the park for walking, running, cycling, picnics and community events. Research on what other First World cities do to create safety, is exactly this. First, safeguard the park (fences and cameras) and then develop the recreational area,” she said.

Ms Crous said residents complained to her frequently about the homeless people sleeping and littering in the park. The watch wants the park to resemble Jack Muller Park, in Boston, which has become a hub for local activities.

Mr Koekemoer said the watch sympathised with the plight of the homeless and tried to help them where it could, but it wanted everyone to be able to use the park.

“You are not allowed to lock public open spaces, so while the fence may not stop homeless people from sleeping in the park, it would make it harder, as they would have to walk a distance to get into it,” he said.

He said the only way they could complete this phase and the other plans for the project was through community donations, such as the R5 000 they had recently received from a local security firm.

Ms Crous encouraged residents to use their parks. Several fund-raisers were being planned, she said, including a bazaar in May.