Project ‘in jeopardy’

2018-06-12 06:00
Frustrated skater, Shuaib Philander, at the skatepark site in Woodstock.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

Frustrated skater, Shuaib Philander, at the skatepark site in Woodstock.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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The City of Cape Town has come under fire for allegedly excluding the local skating fraternity from a R634 000 skatepark project underway in the area.

Local skaters say leaving them out of the project is a mistake and the results are starting to show – the park is being broken down before completion, due to shoddy construction.

According to Shuaib Philander (29), a popular skater who has competed in international and national competitions, had the City welcomed and valued their expertise and skill, the park would be in a better state.

People’s Post visited the site on the eastern side of the Woodstock Town Hall Park, along Victoria Road, between Plein and Aberdeen streets, and can confirmed that a large section is being broken down. Half the park was covered in building rubble.

Says Philander: “There was a big inconsistency with the angle of the ramp throughout (the park). The construction did not match the measurements of the design of the skatepark as well.”

He says breaking down and rebuilding the facility is a waste of money that could have been avoided.

He says he and other skaters in Woodstock have for some time been asking to be involved in the project as consultants, as they have the know-how and could advise the building team

However, the response they received from authorities was that the park is a low-impact skateboarding facility and does not require a consultant.

“It’s sad when a project that has the potential to be so big goes to waste because a community’s voice is not valued,” Philander laments­.

The skatepark is part of the World Design Capital co-design ward project of 2014. It was proposed during discussions with the local community and the skateboarding community about the revitalisation of the Woodstock Town Hall precinct.

There was excitement at the sod-turning ceremony for the project in February, with young skaters showing off their skills to City officials. It was indicated then that construction would be completed and the park would be open for use in four months.

Another skater, Wayne Moses, says consulting local skaters would have been the best thing to do.

“We’ve got the skills (to help with design and construction) and we give them for free,” says Moses, adding that building a skatepark without paying attention to certain details could result in frustration and injury to skaters. As it is now, the facility could end up as a “white elephant” as no skaters will want to use it if it’s done poorly.

Philander says the whole saga is disheartening to Woodstock youth who had hopes of their own skatepark.

“I love skateboarding and I recognise its economic value and what it can do for youth at risk. Imperfections in the ramp might cause a danger to us – it might hurt us,” he says.

The City confirms the park is being broken down, but says taxpayers will not foot the rebuilding costs. “The public will notice that some of the structures are being broken down and will be rebuilt. This is because the work was rejected and the contractor must redo these at his cost,” says Brett Herron, Mayco member for transport and urban development­.

Herron says the project will not be approved until the department is satisfied that construction meets all the necessary approvals. In response to allegations of failure to include the local skaters, Herron says consultation with a skateboarding expert was conducted. “The City’s Urban Development Implementation Department consulted with a skateboarding expert during the design phase of the project prior to publically advertising the construction tender. This facility is aimed at low-impact skateboarding. The simplistic design does not warrant a specialist during construction work.”

Philander disagrees. He says it is important that the facility is built to correct standards because it will be more than just a recreational facility for the locals. “Woodstock is one of the biggest skateboarding communities and the community uses it as a non-motorised form of transport, and seeing that Woodstock is close to the city, they tend to skate to the city, work on their health and fitness and promote non-motorised transport which is good for our ecosystem as well.”

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