Residents look to upgrade Vredehoek park

Denise and Steven Boers, who are part of Friends of Van Riebeeck Park, are involved in a project to upgrade the facility.

The park lies at the foot of Table Mountain, and the group feel it’s not being given its due as a heritage attraction.

Ward councillor Brandon Golding has supported the project and plans to plough R200 000 from his ward allocation budget into getting it off the ground.

The Friends want to get more families using the park, which they say is underutilised. They have dubbed the upgrade the Platteklip Project and hope to meet with the City and SANParks to discuss it.

Denise Boers, a member of the group, said they had mapped the park and were looking for a fund-raiser. She said the Platteklip River, which runs next to the park, was a very important source of water “and has been since the Khoi and San lived here”.

The park, she added, served as a node in a heritage-rich area connecting the city, the sea and the mountain. “We are sitting on something important and it needs to be explored. The park needs to be made into a usable facility,” she said.

The group believe it is important for the park to remain an open public place while celebrating its heritage, including the history of the slaves who once frequented the area.

Mr Golding said the Friends would raise “the bulk of the funds” needed for the upgrade privately, but the park remains City property and accessible to all.

“These public open spaces within the City are vital as our city urbanised and densifies,” he said.

“People need places for exercise and relaxation and this would provide an integrated environment catering to all residents… and provides a place of community interaction.”

Similar groups had been established elsewhere across the city.

“I hope this provides a blueprint of what can be achieved when the City and active citizenry work hand in hand,” said Mr Golding.

Suzette Little, mayoral committee member for area north, said residents had called for a park upgrade a few years ago.

Meetings with the ward councillor, neighbourhood watch and surrounding community had followed and an agreement had been signed with the former city parks director.

The upgrade would be done by the City’s recreation and parks department “with stakeholder involvement from the community”, she said, adding: “We want to see parks include more spaces for active and passive recreation and sport to take place. These spaces will have a twofold benefit: they will draw more residents to the park which increases security and they will encourage healthy and active lifestyles.”