Dream of beautiful spaces

2018-02-27 06:00
The privately owned land in Victoria Road, Grassy Park.PHOTOS: aishah cassiem

The privately owned land in Victoria Road, Grassy Park.PHOTOS: aishah cassiem

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A concerned resident of Zeekoevlei wants to use her skills and knowledge in gardening to create a peaceful and more pleasant environment for locals.

Charlene Jefferies says an unused and privately-owned space in Victoria Road, one of the area’s busiest routes, is slowly filling up with trash and homeless people. She says her dream of changing the space to the benefit of the community can only be achieved with the help of relevant authorities and the property owners.

“I have lived in Zeekoevlei for many years. I have a dream of helping to create a hands-on food forest garden in the green spaces of Grassy Park. My dream is for small gardens dotted around every area where people can participate in the care and harvesting of thriving green spaces that everyone cares for,” says Jefferies.

“Driving down Victoria Road, there are several unoccupied plots of land that are bare and in need of cleaning up, and the earth needs care and nurturing. I have been concerned about a group of homeless people who have made their home on an open plot of land in the centre of Grassy Park.”

This space is located opposite the Standard Bank and FNB premises.

“On inquiry with one of the local fruiterers, I found out that the land is apparently privately owned. The group of homeless people moved onto the plot halfway through last year. Subsequently they have erected small structures from found objects, and litter is strewn everywhere.

“This illegal occupation on the main road has not been addressed by the authorities. I inquired from the council about shelters for the homeless people and about having the plot cleaned up. I received a phone call from someone referring me to the local police, where I had already inquired about the issue. The police let me know that they are unable to do anything about the illegal land occupation because the land is privately owned.”

Jefferies says she has repeatedly raised the issue with local police and City of Cape Town officials, but the issue remains unresolved. She now calls on the community to work together in creating a better environment. “How can we positively participate in living in a clean, safe, healthy and attractive environment? Can the owner of the plot be found and have his space cleaned up? Can we get the local schools and retired people or volunteers from the immediate area to also come and help to participate in beautifying our town centre?”

“I still envision that flourishing, healthy productive garden, where people can work a little to relax and enjoy creating something beautiful and useful, where anyone can learn about creating a productive garden, with benches for relaxing in the shade of productive fruit trees, perhaps a recreational area for teens to skateboard, and a bicycle path where parents of young ones can walk while their children ride little bicycles. In short, an attractive, inviting space for everyone where we can be a community.” 

The open space has been identified as the private property of Wembly Group. Debbie Boonzaaier, the property administrator for Wembley Group, says the plot in question has been sold and is in the process of being transferred to the new owners­. 
The group is therefore not in a position to consent to the request. 
The new owners have not yet been identified.
Ward 110 councillor Shanen Rossouw says she is excited about Jefferies plans and look forward to working with the passionate resident. 
“This is a great idea. I am glad that we have people in the community who are willing to uplift the area. Unfortunately due to this specific space in Victoria Road being privately owned I can’t do anything,” she says.
“But I have two more option of available space owned by the City that she can start her project on. 
“These two spaces have been empty and unused for many years and her great plan to beauty for the area of Grassy Park will be great. 
“I am excited about this and she needs to come and see me to discuss the way forward­.”
V For more information on how you can assist Charlene Jefferies in uplifting Grassy Park, email chalrenejefferies@gmail.com

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