Zandvlei park frustration

Many children would benefit from replaced equipment in the playground in question

It is far from fun and games at the Marine Estate children’s park on the Zandvlei grounds.

Marine Estate residents accuse the City of systematically removing children’s play equipment from the public park and not replacing it.

They also say the City has rebuffed their offer to install a wooden jungle gym at their own cost.

“In the meantime, the current equipment is rusting away, and we are told there are budget restraints on replacing what has eroded. It is ridiculous,” says resident Pierre Niehaus.

The City removed swings in 2017, saying they were unsafe.

“The council’s response to everything is if it is broken, remove it. Fair enough in terms of safety, but what about replacing the items?” he said.

Mr Niehaus fixed the swings himself but said the City wasn’t happy because it would be liable for any injuries.

The City had also not replaced a rusted slide it had removed last year. “The residents understand that there are budget restraints and blah blah, but, for goodness sake, then work with us,” said Mr Niehaus. “We have raised money ourselves and are just waiting for permission. I have qualified staff who can have that jungle gym up in a morning. And it doesn’t wash with me that this is rejected because its not a council built structure. Just put up a sign which says ‘community project, use at own risk’ and you are done.”

The park was used by children from surrounding communities, not just those from Muizenberg or Marine Estate.

“Play and fitness is so important, it teaches all manner of good things, not to mention it’s a delight to see kids not sitting on cellphones or watching TV. They want to be outside and playing, we should be working together to make this happen.”

Marian Nieuwoudt, mayoral committee member for environment and spatial planning replied to questions from the False Bay Echo with a single sentence: “We cannot accept contributions from residents due to liability and maintenance issues.”

She did not respond to questions about what the City had planned for the area, if replacement equipment were being considered and, if so, when it would be put up.

There was no response to our question about what new equipment would be made from – since the metal equipment was prone to rust so near the ocean – nor what the cost of any new equipment would be.

The City, despite being asked, did not comment on what play equipment had been removed and what would happen to the remaining equipment

Muizenberg Lakeside Residents’ Association chairperson, Catherine Dillon, said responsibility for the area fell under the City’s biodiversity section and Zandvlei estuary manager Kyran Wright, and not the recreation and parks department.

Anyone could donate playground equipment after checking with the City, she said, but the final selection had to meet the City’s safety standards because it was ultimately responsible for all equipment at its parks. The standards were there to meet both public safety and public liability requirements, she noted.

Ms Dillon said the MLRA had arranged a meeting between the Marine Estate residents and recreation and parks to clarify the issues.

“Mr Niehaus was encouraged to continue with his plan to install a wooden jungle gym but was also told he needed to work with the City in terms of approval and safety requirements,” she said.

The MLRA had also red-flagged the poor condition of the equipment especially the badly rusted slide with Dalton Gibbs, from biodiversity, and ward councillor Aimee Kuhl, she said.

In January the MLRA had met with Mr Wright and Mark Arendse from biodiversity, and Mr Wright had confirmed the slide had been removed and requisition placed for a replacement.

“We understand and share the frustration of our residents. However, we equally understand and agree that due process must be followed when dealing with public space and related safety,” Ms Dillon said.

However, she agreed, the City had had enough time now to sort out the playground equipment.