Jutland Park a no-go area

Application for the Friends of the Park group has been withdrawn by the Gardens Neighbourhood Watch.

Gardens residents have withdrawn their application to form a “Friends of The Park” group for Jutland Park because of the state of the space. In 2017, residents and the neighbourhood watch said they wanted to restore the park opposite Wembley Square and just off McKenzie Road, for the community to enjoy (“Call to protect Jutland Park,” Atlantic Sun, 2017).

They applied to the City to have this approved but did not receive any feedback on the status of their application for two years.

Chairman of the Gardens Neighbourhood Watch (GNW), Anthony Rees, said their queries about the status of their application with the City have gone unanswered and no clear answers were given.

“In the interim, since we applied, the park’s pitch has been severely damaged due to lack of irrigation, maintenance and human and animal activities,” he said.

Mr Rees said the grass has been replaced by weeds and large areas are bare, devoid even of life-sustaining topsoil. “Without any water being supplied to irrigate the park, funds or will to rehabilitate the pitch, the park has become unusable for most recreational activities,” he said.

In their withdrawal of the application, Mr Rees said the park had become a launchpad of crime, and a refuge for criminals to hide when pursued from neighbouring suburbs such as Gardens, Vredehoek and Devil’s Peak.

“Police operations on the park where vagrants are profiled often reveal wanted persons. Gardens Neighbourhood Watch and Devil’s Peak, Vredehoek Watch (DPV Watch) patrollers have declared Jutland Park a no-go area due to members being threatened with violence regularly. It simply isn’t safe,” he said.

He said the neighbourhood watch no longer sees the park as a viable project to engage in as a “Friends of the Park” grouping in partnership with the City.

“The costs and logistics to rehabilitate the park including moving the fence-line to the roadside to prevent vagrancy and the lack of consistent by-law enforcement now make it a non-viable proposition to adopt the park.”

Mr Rees said residents were upset with Ward 77 councillor Brandon Golding who has not done anything about the situation. “The ward councillor lives in the area, and he promised that they would do something about this, but nothing has been done for two years,” he said.

He said they hope the City will start taking this valuable open public space seriously because very few people use it for its original intended purpose anymore due to neglect and little to no maintenance.”It needs to be rehabilitated before we would consider filing a new application, or re-purposed for development,” he said.

Mr Golding said he’s been in discussions with the relevant roleplayers and was waiting for the fence on the one side to be fixed. He said they do weekly operations there but the homeless return.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said there are currently no plans to upgrade Jutland Park.

He said the reason for the delay was that the department has been advised that any entity operating on a City facility or on behalf of the City must have public liability insurance. This insurance must be in place before any agreements with Friends of the Parks groups can be finalised. The department is awaiting the City’s insurance section to provide a final decision on the way forward.

Mr Badroodien said: “Jutland Park is for passive recreation and not for structured recreational activities such as a formal sport field. As with most parks in Cape Town, this park has also been heavily impacted by the severe drought, vandalism and illegal occupation by vagrants.

“The City has in place law enforcement to conduct operations in the park; however, the homeless return to the park as soon as the next day after these operations.

“The department is in the process, however, of investigating the appointment of EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) workers to assist with daily park maintenance and having a daily presence in the park. This programme will commence in the new financial year.”