Grass out of tune

2016-10-11 06:00
Jane Solomons, left, with some of the residents of Seil Plein who helped with the clean up campaign in the area. PHOTO: gary van dyk

Jane Solomons, left, with some of the residents of Seil Plein who helped with the clean up campaign in the area. PHOTO: gary van dyk

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Tom Jones may have celebrated “The green green grass of home” in song but in Fatcreton and Kensington residents are not happy with overgrown grass in the area.

They are taking steps to keep green spaces in their suburb clean and trimmed themselves, but they want to know where the City of Cape Town, which is supposed to be doing this work, is.

In Seil Plein in Factreton residents took to the park for a clean-up campaign last week but they still need some overgrown grass cleared in the area.

Jane Solomons has lived in the area for more than 50 years and wants answers from the City for its neglect in recent times.

“Before there used to be regular cleaning in the park, but it does not happen anymore,” she says.

“There have also been problems when they have done it because they don’t do it properly. On the rare occasions when the grass has been cut then they don’t clean up properly afterwards.

“This means that the wind blows all those loose cuttings into our gardens.”

In recent months Solomons grew concerned as the grass just kept growing and nothing was done about it.

“The long grass encourages some bad behaviour,” she says. “There is a shebeen in the area and sometimes its patrons feel that it is alright to use that long grass as a toilet.

“This long grass also affects the children and adults who have allergies, so it becomes a health problem as well.”

Solomons eventually decided to take matters into her own hands and organised some of the residents and children in the area to clean up themselves.

“We’re just tired of them doing nothing, so we decided to clean up ourselves. It was a good exercise but we pay rates and can’t do the city’s work for them all the time. Are they going to give us some money back?” Solomons asks.

In Kensington the Acre Road Safety and Community Watch also decided to take it upon themselves to do some work.

“We noticed that there was a report about a legal battle between the City and a contractor that is supposed to be doing this work,” says Stanley van Breda of the organisation.

“This prompted us to do something because the situation in the parks and green spaces is growing out of control.

“On Saturday we were in Paradise Park on the corner of 11th Avenue and Ventura Street to clean up the area and have the grass cut.

“Our drastic action included approaching residents around the park and asking them for donations to have the grass cut. Luckily they were willing to contribute and a private contractor was hired to help.”

From early on Saturday members of the organisation collected litter before the contractor started its work.

“We want to show the City that we won’t wait for them to show that we care,” continues Van Breda.

“But, they have to solve their problems because we are paying our rates.

“We thank all the neighbours who willingly donated and Wayne Assure who cut the grass, as well as Lesley Swartz for providing the bags to put the grass in once it was cut.”

Van Breda adds that their next initiative is to talk with the relevant stakeholders about the installation of floodlights in the park.

“This will help with monitoring activities at night in the park and neighbours can report them more frequently.

“Residents must take ownership of the park and report illegal activities like drugs, alcohol abuse and illegal dumping. A meeting will be arranged with our neighbours to discuss preventative measures to monitor our park.”

Anda Ntsodo, Mayco member for community services, says the City needed to employ smaller contractors on a short-term basis to mow parks and open space areas across the city when an appeal was lodged against the original, city-wide mowing tender.

“The City’s legal services department is assessing this appeal with urgency, with a view to concluding the matter as soon as possible,” he says.

“I would like to sincerely apologise to residents for the delay. Together with the director of City parks, I am doing everything I can to mitigate the backlog of mowing caused by the delay in concluding the mowing tender.

“The process for appointing these smaller contractors has been following internal procurement processes which does take time. However, many contractors are on site right across the metro and are focusing on mowing the problematic parks and public open spaces within each area. Major through routes are being prioritised where the highest risk is experienced.”

He explains that the City’s parks officials are having to monitor multiple contractors who are undertaking mowing work across the city and are under pressure to attend to mowing as quickly as possible.

“The department’s supervisors are signing off on work done in their areas to ensure adherence to required standards set (like grass cut to a prescribed level, trimming the edges and removal of dirt).

“Where instances of poor workmanship occur by the contractors, I urge communities to keep us informed and ask that residents report unkempt parks and open spaces via the City’s website or to report this to their local ward councillor or City parks area office. City parks can then investigate.

“We do encourage residents to liaise with their local ward councillors or local parks depots for information on when each area is scheduled to be mowed.”
For more information about the activities of the Acre Road Safety and Community Watch call Stanley van Breda on 082 325 9451 or Raymond Diedericks on 071 526 0215.

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