August 2015 – West Bank update

WEST BANK

This is the unkempt area opposite the Park over the river where the squatters are.  I would like to use this newsletter to get FOFS history with the problem and our efforts to solve it constructively out there  so that there is no misunderstanding regarding us and this issue.

FACTS.

The area is Parkland but due to no access – our bridge was smashed by a falling tree 15 years ago –  it has been left wild by Parks.

It does not go all the way up to the Nichol Highway but comes down at an angle from behind Italtile,  to a point where the stable fence is and then comes straight down to the servitude at the stables end.

Forest Farm own the major part of that West Bank from Pick’nPay to Italtile – the Golden Mile.

The ONLY way to deal with the squatter issue is to develop the land . Our intention for 6 years has been to negotiate, with JPC support, with Forest Farm for   the Triangle – ie. get Forest Farm to put in this vital piece – they would get market related value for it –  so that we could go right up to Nichol, develop offices at the top, extend the Park across the river up to the offices and have a levy from these offices to secure/maintain that side of the Park.

After 6 years of trying and near success last October it is clear Forest Farm are not going to part with any land so we are left with this awkward shape to make the most of.  We have had meetings with JPC and their team, a second which included Arup, Urban-Econ,  and Council consultants Durapi  in which ideas were discussed. We, FOFS, have made it clear that our mission is to extend the Park area across the river and submitted our plans to them, with and without the triangle.

I also gave them feedback from the opinions of 80 Saints schoolboys who were given an assignment on what they would do with the Park as a whole  after I had given them the History of the Park and pointed out it’s Heritage status. We must listen to this generation.

PARK

The community is getting upset over the tap at the entrance to the Park where the squatters get water.  There is a reason for this. The water is our bargaining tool. Do not cause a problem in the park,   watch out for the Park – they have chased criminals who have tried to escape across the river –  so the only escape now is the open gate at the bottom of Peter Place. Do this and the water is there.  Problems and it’s gone. Anyone who steps out of line is dealt with by them.  It is working.

Some time ago we had major complaints from the lower Parkmore Crescent to cut the water off  as they didn’t like seeing them at the tap.  We did cut it off  and barely a week later they asked to have it back because the squatters were all walking through their area in search of water.  THEY WILL FIND IT.

That tap is the ONLY tap in the entire Park.  It was moved from IN the Park because Park users complained that they didn’t like seeing people walking through the Park for the water! I have an agreement with them that they  walk up the side of the stables fence and not through the Park to the tap at the entrance.  They are doing this.

We HAVE to have a tap for the Park and there we can water and keep the entrance looking good for you, the residents, when you enter the Park.  If you have a better idea let me know!

CONCLUSION

We FOFS, are aware of the situation and are working to constructively get a long term solution for the West Bank together with JPC ( Joburg Property Co.)  (Destroying shelters and expecting them to disappear is just NIMBYISM.  This is the current favoured solution and solves nothing)

We hope to have a plan by the end of the year.

There is NO security in the Park so be sensible when you are in it. Parks have no Budget for gate guards to at least control who goes in and out and the servitudes are open to all.

We deal with issues in the Park which are many – churches, sangomas, destructive behaviour – youths smashing Molotov cocktails onto the rocks – sleep overs, litter, supervise events  etc. etc.

We predict that when those at George Lea Park are removed and the development there takes place we will be where they move to.

If you have any ideas you would like to share with the FOFS Committee – rose@fofs.co.za

If you want to know more about us – www.fofs.co.za  – Facebook – fieldandstudypark

Rose Johnson

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