Hall ‘centre’ of town

The Durbanville town hall

A Durbanville councillor wants the town hall — closed for two years during a R10 million heritage development — to be reopened to the public now that the project is finished.

The hall lay dormant while contractors worked on the Pampoenkraal Heritage Square project, during which the hall was spruced up with a paint-job and some general maintenance.

The finishing touches were put to the Pampoenkraal development last month and the site is now open to the public, except for the hall. Ward 112 councillor Theresa Uys wants something done about that.

At last month’s Sub-council 7 meeting, she said the hall — traditionally used for birthday parties, conferences, meetings and other events — needed to be opened t the community again. She told an earlier sub-council meeting the hall was vulnerable and that security gates and toilet locks had been broken.

The Pampoenkraal project is one of the biggest heritage developments in the city and recalls the founding of Durbanville – then known as Pampoenkraal – in the early 19th century as a watering station for travellers.

Suzette Little, the mayoral committee member for area north, said the hall had been handed over by the contractor, Mark Darius Civils, on Friday October 6, and it would be opened “as soon as possible” although no full-time staff were posted there at the moment.

Northern News earlier reported on plans to open a coffee shop at the Pampoenkraal development to draw people to the area around the town hall (“Boost for heritage square,” Northern News, September 21).

Ms Uys told sub-council that the amphitheatre, which forms part of the site upgrades, was becoming a hot spot for skateboarders, and lighting under the newly installed stairs was being stripped. She has asked law enforcement to monitor the area.

Ms Little said security guards were posted on the site at night, and five recently installed cameras watched the square. The upgrades have been a hot topic on social media, with residents asking why the City spent R10 million on the project instead of on what some held to be more pressing needs, such as homelessness.Reacting to a Facebook post about the art installation at the square, Vanessa Scanlen said: “I’m new to the area and absolutely love the space. I went to read up on the history of Pampoenkraal and Durbanville, and I think the symbolism of the cattle is spot on.”

But Colleen Geddis called the project a “waste of money which could have been used a lot of other ways to help people”.

Shulano Bell said the money could have gone to several other more deserving projects. “Why not get a shelter for homeless… or fix the police station and get more patrol cars; or upgrade the halls in Durbanville and Morningstar; build a proper police station in Fisantekraal or another primary school as more than 250 children are transported to Durbanville for school daily. “

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, said the City had wanted to create a dignified space for the community. “It was a neglected site that accommodates the town hall and has a rich history as a space which played an important role in the development of Durbanville. The upgrade of the site aimed to contribute to the creation of a quality civic and recreational precinct within the CBD.”