A new park opened this week in Vredehoek with the hope that it will rejuvenate a previously underused area.
Virginia Avenue Park, a stone’s throw from Gardens Skate Park, had been the scene of several complaints including vagrancy and opportunistic crime such as car break-ins.
Work on the park, funded with an R80 000 ward allocation from councillor Dave Bryant, started in June last year, and Nicola Jowell, of the Vredehoek/Devil’s Peak Neighbourhood Watch, believes the finished product represents a turn-around in the area’s fortunes.
She hopes lighting and activity at both the new park and the skate park will deter criminal elements and anti-social behaviour.
“It shows that if we engage with the city about the problems, they will assist. This happened with not a lot of money, but it has been transformed. The community needs to come and use it. With more people around here, we would like to see a similar thing happen to the green patch on the other side of Mill Street.”
She added that it was a great space to come and have a lunch break, coffee and healthy activity,
Mr Bryant said the park had a different function to that of the skate park. “The skate park has multi-functional use and has attracted a lot of people to that space. What we wanted to create with this space was something a bit more peaceful and relaxed where people can have picnics.”
He believes the more green spaces the city can accommodate, the better. “With increased densification, there is more yearning for public space. We are blessed with having a lot of parks within the City Bowl area, and it is great to have another one join the family.”
He praised the city parks department for the work it had done and encouraged residents to come forward with other ideas and initiatives.
. “We want to encourage people to come along and make use of the space. It’s a success story. We’ve taken this space from a place that you wouldn’t want to walk past to a place you want to come to. That’s the goal in upgrading public spaces.”
The park isn’t dog-friendly, but others, including nearby De Waal Park, are.
“If you look around this area, people live in confined environments and don’t have gardens. You need to provide public open spaces where people can feel a bit more at one with nature. It has a massive positive impact, and takes away tension that you often have in city environments,” said Mr Bryant.