03 October 2016
The next phase in the upgrading and revitalisation of the George Lea Park (North) will continue today with a combined task force from the City undertaking a massive clean-up to remove the litter in the park and to resettle the displaced people living in the park itself.
The operation will be coordinated by the City of Joburg and includes members of SAPS, JMPD, City Parks, Park Rangers, and Pikitup. The five day operation is the result of two months of planning to coincide with the final installation of the Cochrane ClearVu fence around the perimeter of the park.
“The Sandton Sports Club supports the City in fulfilling its responsibility to enforce city by-laws and to start to rehabilitating the wetlands so that more people in the community can use this area,” said Len Jordaan, Chairperson of the Sandton Sports Club.
He said the Sports Club had attracted substantial interest and investment from private companies to revamp the sports club itself over the recent months – but all negotiations had stalled because of the serious threat to any investment posed by the lower area of the land - that which borders William Nicol and Sandton Drive.
“We can now move forward, with this area being protected and rehabilitated. Nothing will be built on this section of George Lea Park. We are proud that we can adopt this land going forward and hope in time we can create a safe environment for those running and walking along this greenbelt. We have other job creation ideas too involving community vegetable gardens and educational facilities for local school children.”
The next step is for the Sports Club to start building all new soccer facilities, which are funded by a private investor. The investment, which will be around R12 million, will focus on building state-of-the-art soccer fields for the youth soccer teams in the local area. Corporate naming rights have yet to be agreed on but the development is modelled on the successful Discovery Soccer Park based at the Wanderers sports club.
“This has been a very long negotiation process between the club, the community and the City stretching over many years,” said Kate Wardle, Deputy Chairperson, Parkmore Community Association. “The result will be a fantastic community sports centre and revitalised communal green space.”
She said that the PCA was aware that many people were concerned about where the people currently living in the park will go. Many are from Lesotho and work in Sandton in the construction industry. Others make their living from recycling.
The Displaced Peoples Unit has visited the area many times over the past month to try to create other options at shelters or to encourage people to pay rent. Says Wardle: “Ultimately no one can force anyone to go to a shelter, but they can enforce the by-laws which state no one can live in a park. There is a risk that these displaced people will move further along the Spruit and we want to continue to work with the City in the overall longer term plans to secure and rehabilitate this river."
Wardle continues: "We would like to thank the community for their on-going patience and support as we finally start to see results – by early 2017, a significant difference will be clear to all, not only in terms of cleaning up the wetlands and securing it, but through the enhanced and new facilities at the Sandton Sports Club. We are enormously excited and grateful to the new management at the Club, who are all local residents volunteering their time, for their enormous efforts and passion to provide a fantastic sporting facility for the young people in this community.”
Sandton Sports Club – Len Jordaan, Chairperson, email@example.com
Parkmore Community Association – Kate Wardle, Deputy Chairperson, firstname.lastname@example.org
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