In the middle of the City Bowl, beneath the majestic Table Mountain, lies an oasis of greenery. Every day this beautiful space acts as a meeting ground for dogs and their walkers, children, picnickers, slack rope walkers, tree and bird enthusiasts, runners and everyone in between.
There is no spot in Cape Town more sacred and loved by those who visit it. We take it upon ourselves to keep our community park clean, safe and functional. Join us in our mission to keep De Waal Park running smoothly, by becoming a member of the Friends of De Waal Park.
Run Rabbit Run Coffee Roastery has recently set up in the bandstand. What better way to enjoy our beautiful park as we ease into Winter than with a hot cup of coffee in hand?
Keep up to date with trading times by liking the Run Rabbit Run Coffee Roastery's Facebook page.
This is our seventh AGM. I am pleased that we did not succumb to external and internal pressures, as predicted. In the past there have been a few attempts at forming a society to protect De Waal Park but they seldom lasted six months, let alone seven years. Do we feel the seven year itch?
When I re-read my report from last year I wondered whether we had achieved anything like as much this year, but when I add up all the small things that have been done I know that we have moved. We have NOT succeeded in finding a contractor to build a robust turning circle, despite numerous attempts. For some unknown reason - perhaps they feel that the job is too small - contractors do not even return our calls let alone quote us for the job. What we want to do is repair the present turning circle, now badly eroded, or make another turning circle further on. We also want to lower the height of the first speed bump a couple of millimetres - but we cannot find someone to do the work. If anyone knows of an engineer who might look at this project please let me know.
There were a couple of opportunities that presented themselves and we have grabbed them with both hands: the Council arranged for the brick path from the Booth gate to the fountain circle to be lifted and fresh bricks to be laid. We managed to get all the half bricks donated to us and Clayton used his initiative to start building attractive slabs under the benches. We supplied the materials for him to continue to do that and paid him a small wage. He went on to build up the approach to the Molteno Road pedestrian gate and eliminate the high step that caused problems for women with prams and some of the older visitors from Berghof.
We then continued to use the half bricks to pave around the fountain pond and so reduce the mud puddles that were created as the dogs leapt out of the pond, soaking wet. More recently a second pathway was lifted and repaved and this gave us the opportunity to retain all the bricks and use them to lay the bandstand plaza. That cost us more money than we had expected but it was a lot more complicated than anticipated and I think you will agree that it is money well-spent. The bulk of that cost will only appear in next year's financials.
So too will the cost of adjusting the wood chip area around the picnic table. Helen Picard generously donated money for fresh woodchips but until the area has been built up a little to hold the chips, we cannot order the woodchips. Thank you Helen for your continued support of the park.
The new PLEASE SHUT THE GATES signs supplied to us by RE/MAX Living have been most effective. I know that they look a bit as though they are shouting at you as you approach, but they have been more effective than the springs - for which we paid so much money. I was a bit surprised when I first saw what you had had made, Susan, but I am very grateful to RE/MAX Living now.
Helen Picard also donated the cost of a picket fence to hold all the bags that are collected and stacked at the double gate on Molteno Road, for Solid Waste to fetch them. The fence needs to be painted a darker colour and we want to line the perimeter fence with shade cloth so that it is less unsightly as you drive up Molteno Road. We also want to ensure that this area is cleaned frequently because it is most unpleasant for the Tennis Club.
Charles used his magic to persuade a sponsor to give us sand for the new small sandpit - which has been a big hit with the little ones. We also topped up the sand in the bigger pit, much to the delight of children, dogs and a few frolicsome adults. The problem of the spider web in the children's area has not been resolved. It was given to us by a film company a few years ago but the ropes have now become frayed and need to be removed or replaced. It is something that we need to deal with but it is, perhaps surprisingly, a contentious issue as many people dislike it but others tell me that the older children love it and want it retained.
The toilet block was repainted by the Council (the Council has spent a great deal of money on the park this year and in fact the Parks Department held their annual award ceremony in the park. The park was cleaned to within an inch of its life that day and looked spectacular. Parks Dept were beaming with pride) Back to the toilet block. Council pays for someone to look after it every weekday and for Elizabeth to open it at weekends. Unfortunately she is often left without toilet paper and cleaning fluid so I have been ensuring that she is supplied with these. She keeps the toilets as clean as possible under the circumstances and I have had several compliments from visitors to the park about the state of the toilet block. We pay for the toilets to be kept open every evening until sunset and I know that this is regarded as a very important facility in the city bowl.
Once again the problems of the Homeless and of Criminal Activity have taken up a lot of our time. There have been frequent raids during the day and several at night. I know that there is a general belief that the security guards that drive around the park have little impact on the numbers of people who sleep in the park but they cannot arrest people, and there is no reason to call the SAPS if people are just sitting around - even if their washing in drying on the fence. It may be unsightly but I have not found a by-law forbidding it. When we did have a murder the SAPS arrived in full force and dealt with the crime scene most efficiently. Interestingly, it was a lesson to me to hear the various stories told by people who had been in the park at the time, and to try to find out what the truth might have been. It made me wonder about all those witnesses in the Oscar Pistorius trial.
Our hope of funding a field worker has faded, I'm afraid. And so too has my hope of tackling the problems of the homeless in a constructive way. The field worker I was hoping to fund has moved on and I don't think that the Friends are qualified to introduce and monitor a new one. We did have a few offers to fund the salary for a field worker and I want to thank those who came forward. I believed that it would be a valuable resource for the city bowl but it was not to be and perhaps it would not have had much impact. So we will continue to monitor and deal with the homeless as best we can.
The criminal element that seems to invade the park at night is much harder to tackle. Suggestions that the park be locked at night raise the questions how the park is to be closed, who will lock it every evening and who will then unlock it every morning, and how will the law-enforcement agents get into the locked park to pursue thecriminals. Will the park not just become a really safe place for criminals to lurk about? I have not heard further on this issue. But I can confirm that the SAPS make regular tours of the park both during the day and at night.
Perhaps the most exciting innovation in the park (and I am deliberately avoiding the mermaid issue) is Philip Brink's Coffee Roastery. It took several months of discussions, negotiations and getting direction from the City to get this up and running but so far I have only heard good things about it. The coffee is delicious, Nicky's pastries are on par with the coffee and the atmosphere in the band stand is festive. To top it all the Park scores very nicely from his contributions. And we would do even better if we would buy his special De Waal Park Pavement Special and Outeniqua Geelhout. All of this did not happen without a wonderful team of committee members.
We persuaded Megan to be our Deputy Chairman before she decided to leave the city bowl, and her sage advice, business acumen and foresight has proved to be invaluable. Thank you, Megan. We miss your daily visits to the park but absence makes the heart grow fonder and now we are even happier to see you when you do visit than we were before. She has indicated that she feels that she should stand down but I am hoping to persuade her not to.
Another person who only manages to visit us occasionally is our treasurer, Renate. I am delighted that you have moved back to the city, Renate, and I sincerely hope that you need not go too far away again. Your contribution is most important,Wendy has continued to look after Straatwerk for us and I know that they need your support and direction when they report for duty on a Friday morning, Wendy. Susan also gave the committee a calm centre this year - and daringly climbed trees to put up an owl box. I don't think that any owl has discovered the box yet but I trust that your efforts will not be in vain.
Oliver has been a star. Not only has he cheerfully gone about fixing things but he is an excellent photographer (as this year’s calendar attests) and delights in planning the next calendar. He supplies the committee with bubbly at our meetings and his practical approach is greatly appreciated.
Peta, sadly,decided that she could not stay on the committee since starting a new career but has continued to support us through the website, Facebook and all those social media thingy's that I don't understand but which are essential to any modern society. Thank you, Peta, for all your work on the calendar, for your on-going and important input and support.
Jennifer. What can I say about Jennifer that will not sound too gushing? If anyone here has received a letter from Jennifer, a letter of congratulation, support or condolence then you will know that she has an extraordinary talent for caring. She genuinely does care about the people, the dogs and the park. She empathises, celebratesand supports all that we do. She is remarkable.
All these people were involved in putting together the calendar (some more so than others - and with fantastic input from Tracey Bowley, Anna-Maria Valentini, Sally Chapman, Deralene Montagner and Lisa Malcomess) which was such a success. They spent hours ensuring that as many dogs as possible were featured. That the photos were the best/most amusing/cutest/ most appropriate and that the layout looked good and incorporated those suggestions that had been forwarded to us.
With Winnie's help they sold calendars. My thanks to all of you for your input, company and friendship. It is a special bond that we have in the Friends.Other people have contributed; Tielman Haumann has led several tree tours, Margaret Damerell has raffled a beautiful embroidered cushion and a bag to raise funds for us, Charles Geffen and Teresa Droste have been most generous and supportive, Helen Picard finds reasons to give us money, and Anna-Maria Valentini makes us feel good with her enthusiasm and positive remarks. Of course there are the people who write to say that dogs should be on leashes (but have not the courtesy to even acknowledge my carefully worded, detailed response), who complain about the children on their bikes or their skateboards or their scooters, but most of the complaints come from non-members and at the Inaugural meeting of the Friends it was agreed that we need not pay heed to letters from people who are not members.
Clayton has worked hard and creatively. It may not always be your idea of what should be planted where or how but whatever he does, he does with sincerity and for the good of the park as he sees it. Elizabeth in the toilets tries to ensure that the toilets are safe and clean and as functional as she can make them for our visitors. Our visitor numbers grow and I hear some amazing stories of happy picnics in De Waal Park from friends who live far away. They love the park and I am proud of it.
I cannot end this report without thanking the team from the City's Parks Department: Pauline McConney, Valentino Jephta, Charl Marais (who has recently retired) aided and abetted by Charles who manages to assist with all sorts of unusual jobs, roping in Johann to fix a gate, weld a stanchion or supply some necessary tool. Thank you to them all for what they have done and what they do.And to you, our members and regular visitors to the Park. You make it safe and warm and friendly and fun. I hope you will continue to enjoy it. Thank you. And I deliberately did not mention poo. But I want to thank Tilly who surreptitiously restocks our poo bags. She is like one of the wee folk who repair things in the dead of night.