New MID board ‘under no illusions’

Chevone Petersen, chairperson of the Muizenburg Improvement District.

Muizenberg Improvement District has just had a complete overhaul in leadership.

There are mixed feelings on the issue with the new MID board releasing an optimistic view of the work ahead, and concerns expressed by the outgoing directors.

The crux of the issue, shared in a joint statement from the outgoing directors, is that since inception, the Muizenberg Improvement District’s Memorandum of Incorporation allowed for 12 directors.

However, at the MID annual general meeting on November 15, a group of property owners, aided by proxies, narrowly passed a resolution to limit the number of directors to seven.

Long-serving director and outgoing MID chair, Steven Frankal cautioned the meeting that limiting the number of directors would be problematic.

“We were fortunate to attract board members with the expertise and energy needed to implement the MID vision,” he said. “But however committed, they are all volunteers with their own careers and businesses so you don’t want them to burn out.

“As it is, our manager was finding her workload too much and putting in many extra overtime hours, as were the board members.

“This is something we were busy dealing with as a board and our planned appointment of a public safety manager was intended to ease this load.

“We are also deeply concerned about the MID social development strategy around street and homeless people and we were driving changes to that in consultation with property owners who have expressed strong views on the situation.”

Mr Frankal’s views were supported by Marion Thomas, the new social worker appointed by the MID.

Ms Thomas told the meeting she had been highly impressed by the calibre of the outgoing board and cautioned the members against limiting director numbers.

Despite the cautioning from Mr Frankal, Ms Thomas and other members, the resolution was passed to limit the board members to seven.

At this point the majority of directors resigned, sending a clear message that they would not be comfortable serving under the leadership intended by the members who voted for the limitation.

The resigning directors are long-standing members: Peter Wright, George Hill, Lesley Schroeder; and newer members Hugo Coetzee and Kerime Sinclair who, Mr Frankal said, have done much to improve the public safety and cleaning/environmental upliftment portfolios respectively.

The board members who stayed were Marion Wagner, whose portfolio is social development, and Kevin Rack who was co-opted on to the board three months ago on the recommendation of Ms Wagner and MID Manager, Chevone Petersen.

Concerned about continuity, Mr Frankal waited three days before handing over the reins and resigning at the first meeting of the new board on Friday November 18.

“With a volunteer not-for-profit board like this, the MID is only as effective as its leadership and you can’t have a divided board if you want to achieve great things,” he said. “This is one of the best boards I have ever served on. We all resigned reluctantly but you can be assured that those of us who left will continue to build Muizenberg through our own efforts outside of the MID Board.”

He added that the resigning members wished the new board much success.

“We hope that they will continue to work as hard as we have to take Muizenberg to even greater heights, working from the sound foundation of strategy and vision that has been laid by the outgoing directors.”

Ms Petersen described the air of optimism among the new MID board, which consists of Ms Wagner, Mr Rack, Toby Megaw, Karen Hultzer and Heidi Goodman.

Ms Petersen said the new board members are all active community volunteers who have engaged in various activities on the Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) and within the community for several years. “They are eager to get down to business and build on the solid groundwork set down by previous MID boards,” she said.

“We are under no illusion here, we understand that we are committing to a company that is fraught with challenges when it comes to the expectations from the community, in particular around public safety and social development,” said Ms Wagner, the newly elected MID chair.

Identifying public safety as the most critical issue, one of the first decisions taken by the new board was to double up on public safety patrollers during the festive season, from Thursday December 15 to Sunday January 8, when there is an influx of visitors to Muizenberg.

Another decision was to set up a meeting with the Muizenberg Community Safety Initiative to create working relationships with relevant service providers to help the neighbourhood watch set up their CCTV camera system.

Discussions will include the establishment of a maintenance and support network within the community to ensure that these efforts are sustainable in the long term.

At the AGM, MID member, Peter Dugmore also thanked the board members who put in a significant effort to obtain the necessary consent required to submit the Wherry Road Triangle Boundary Extension.

“It was an exceptional effort by the property owners in Wherry Road, and special thanks must go to David Bellamy, a resident of Wherry Road, who gave it a final push to secure the 12 consents needed to meet the 60 percent application requirement,” said Ms Wagner.

This boundary extension proposal is currently undergoing a public participation process and all property owners living in the Wherry Road Triangle are invited to attend the next public meeting, today, Thursday December 8 at 6.30pm, at Planet Kids, Muizenberg for an update.

The Muizenberg Community is encouraged to keep an eye on the MID Facebook page and website for details on how they can act as positive change agents in the MID and to find more information about the board members and their portfolios.

The Muizenberg Improvement District [MID] is a geographic area where property owners have contracted to pay a levy to facilitate a joint effort by the City of Cape Town and the local community to ensure more effective management of public areas and to promote business confidence.

The MID supplements normal municipal services provided by the City, using its funds to deal with public safety, enhance the environment and address social issues like vagrancy and finding workable solutions for the homeless. The Muizenberg Improvement District is a legal entity established under the City’s Special Rating Areas by-law and also governed by the South African Companies Act 2008. For details to go