Repair crime haven, say residents

2018-05-01 06:01
The dilapidated public swimming pool Maitland residents want redeveloped into a community facility.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

The dilapidated public swimming pool Maitland residents want redeveloped into a community facility.PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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Local residents want a public swimming pool, which has become a haven for criminals, homeless people and even prostitutes, to reclaim its status as a
community asset.

They want the building to be demolished and redeveloped into a recreational structure where the community can develop and young people can learn new things. As it is now, the dilapidated facility in Royal Road is a safety and health hazard.

“The site has become a haven for criminals and homeless people and even prostitution,” says Maitland Neighbourhood Watch chairperson, Graham Daniels. He calls for the demolition of the structure but says it must be redeveloped. “Developing it is the answer. It needs to be developed into a community hall type of thing where different activities can take place, like a hub for the community,” says Daniels.

Windsor Close resident Zaitoon Barends agrees: “They should build a community centre on the site. There are a lot of young people here but there are no facilities.”

As one of the first people to move into the suburb more than 20 years ago, Barends remembers how beautiful the pool was when she and her friends used to swim in it.

She says since its closure for redevelopment about 15 years ago, the pool has not been the same. “So many crazy things go on in there,” she says. Vagrants, drug addicts and children bunking school have made the site their home. School children hide there and smoke drugs instead of going to school,” she says.

Nearby neighbour, Zainab Scharffenorth (30), shares the same sentiments. “Rebuild it as a pool or put a park there. There are a lot of children in the neighbourhood.”

An enthusiastic Spencer Street resident, Aziza Lakay, takes People’s Post down memory lane. “Why can’t they rebuild the pool? We have so many kids in the area. It was so nice back then – something for the holidays. Some people can’t make it to the beach, so bring the beach here. It was so safe because the security guards kept it safe and it kept children safe from accidents,” says
Lakay.

Another resident, Katrina Devries, expresses safety and hygiene concerns. “What’s the use for it now? It’s unhygienic and crime happens there,” she says.

The residents’ calls come after news that the City of Cape Town is considering demolishing the site. The City revealed in a newspaper notice that it has applied to Heritage Western Cape for a permit to demolish the swimming pool and structures associated with it. The City asserts that the pool poses a safety and health hazard and thus its demolition will result in a positive impact on the social environment.

“The pool and associated structures are considered to possess low heritage significance in their current state. However, the social significance of the swimming pool as part of the history of the community needs to be identified and acknowledged,” the notice states.

The City calls the residents in Maitland to comment on the proposal by Thursday 10 May. The questions the public will need to answer are: “Does the site hold significance to the community? What social value does the pool have? Should you feel the site possesses social significance, how would you like to see such memories and histories respected and remembered?”

The City further states that the purpose of the public participation process is to investigate the social history of the site and identify how social significance can be addressed within future development.

Findings from the consultation process will be included in the application to be presented at the Heritage Western Cape appeals meeting scheduled for Wednesay 22 August.

The City has advised Maitland residents to visit the local library on Thursday 10 May from 14:00 to 17:00 to discuss the social significance of the site with heritage consultants.

They will then be given the period from Thursday 5 July to Monday 6 August to comment on the report to be submitted to Heritage Western Cape regarding such social
significance.V To submit comments in writing, email maitlandpool@vidamemoria.co.za.

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