Park in need of friends

Liz Brunette, councillor for Ward 62, points to the stretch between the play park and Springfield Convent Schools which was once overgrown with vegetation and dangerous.

A skate park, concerts and a tea room are part of the master plan for Wynberg Park.

Liz Brunette, councillor for Ward 62, met with the Bulletin last week to show what progress has been made since the launch of the plan and the Friends of Wynberg Park three years ago.

At the launch, 12 silvertrees were planted (“New plans for Wynberg Park on the cards”, Bulletin April 10, 2014).

And on Friday it appeared that the master plan was doing better than the Friends group and the silvertrees, only three of which remain.

Rory Rochat of Trovato is the only member and is looking for “Friends” to join him. “It’s a sad story. The committee is rudderless at the moment. John Williams was the previous chairman and prior to that was Henk Egberink,” he said.

When the Bulletin went on a walkabout with Kenilworth resident Mr Egberink three years ago, he had said the Friends of Wynberg Park had been formed the previous year at the request of Ms Brunette.

Mr Egberink said the master plan was signed off in August 2012.

Concerts in the park, like the ones in De Waal Park, were planned as fund-raisers for the natural amphitheatre area above the main pond. Other specialised gardens will include those for conifers, fynbos, hydrangeas, azaleas and camellias. Lighting, tree labelling, a tea room, clearing the riverine corridor, a maze and a sculpture park were also part of the master plan.

Walking along the new measured track for wheelchairs, joggers and walkers, which is about one-kilometre long, Ms Brunette said there was still a long way to go but the park was looking good. Passing some of the new 50 braai sites, she said each was used on Heritage Day, September 24.

Mr Rochat confirmed this, saying it was a pleasure seeing people coming from far and wide to use the facilities, and in a responsible way.

Wynberg Park is one of few in the city where braais are allowed. Following the public holiday, and on his regular run around the park, Mr Rochat noticed overflowing bins and litter and that people were driving on the new paths so he flagged this with the City. “They soon took action. This is what the Friends need to do,” he said.

As 600 people from the nearby 2 Military Hospital walked or ran around the track, others walked dogs or children. Ms Brunette said the park has 24-hour security which included monitoring vagrants.

The 22-hectare park is divided by Klaassens Drive. The upper section, below the dam, was accessed via a dirt track and was an unsafe area, especially at night. It has since been transformed, with controlled access between 5am and 5pm, to paved parking, more braai areas and a play gym.

“It was completed six months ago and now part of the park again,” said Ms Brunette.

Pointing under Edinburgh Drive above, towards Chart Farm, she said this is where a world class skate park would be built. “It can be used for international competitions. The plans have been drawn up but now we need the funding,” she said.

Kristina Davidson, chairperson of Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (WRRA) said an Urban Design Framework for Wynberg and Maynardville parks exists and was originally approved in 2002 and refined subsequently through a public participation process in 2008, which resulted in an approved Management and Development Framework.

Then there was a public participation process in 2013 asking public for ideas for the master plan, but this happened before the WRRA was established. “The WRRA hasn’t asked specifically for these things because it falls under the Friends of Wynberg Park’s mandate – and we weren’t in existence when the discussions about the master plan took place,” said Ms Davidson.

To join the Friends of Wynberg Park, got to their Facebook page or call Rory Rochat at 082 322 7950.