Settlers Park development leaves residents puzzled and angry

2011-09-08 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality dispatched security guards to Settlers Park on Tuesday to order workers who were busy with the park’s renovation to stop work immediately, spokesperson Brian Zuma told The Witness.

“If work continues despite [the workers] being advised against it we will have to force them to stop because the agreement with Growing Parks is null and void,” Zuma said.

There has been an outcry by residents about the park’s renovation.

Residents who live around Town Bush Road told The Witness they are upset about the development.

They claim that they have been left in the dark about the goings on at a public space.

Growing Parks is a non-profit organisation that aims to clean up Pietermaritzburg’s parks to create a safe and clean environment for children.

A resident in Athlone, Dr Jason Londt (68), said, “I would like to know exactly what is happening at that public space.

“My concern is that we don’t know what’s going on and we were never consulted.”

Londt lives about 200 metres from the park. He has lived in the area for 17 years and walks his dog there at least once a week.

“We need to know how much of the park will be occupied.

“Again, is Growing Parks willing to have a public meeting with the community?” he asked.

Jacaranda trees have been cut down and the children’s swings have been taken down.

The Witness has been flooded with calls and letters from readers who are demanding answers.

Cassim Mahomed Jasat of Berg Street, a frequent jogger along Town Bush Road, said he was “utterly disgusted and dismayed” when he realised that “beautiful trees” were being hacked to pieces.

Ward 25 councillor Dave Ryder said he wants the municipality to follow the proper channels before any development takes place.

“I’ve been receiving lots of calls from people asking me about Settlers Park.

“It’s simple — no one is allowed to go to a public open space and cut trees unless the committee has been consulted,” Ryder said, adding that the development plans for the park should be approved by the council.

Zuma said, “The estates department met the Growing Parks chairperson to explain to her that the process would have to be started from scratch because a council resolution would be required if this project was to go ahead.”

Farhana Vally of Growing Parks, who lives in Scottsville, denied that renovations are taking place at the park, saying she is still in discussions with the municipality.

Vally said she has spoken about the park’s redevelopment plan to Ryder, the tennis club chairperson and the Northern Park Primary School governing body, and has chatted with people who regularly walk their dogs in the park

“Dog walkers know who I am and the swing is still, there but we just moved it next to the toilets after we painted it,” she added.

She said she will consider meeting the other residents when her busy schedule allows.


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