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Friday Mar 05, 2010

People's park to bloom in Green Point

The City of Cape Town is set to unveil a multi-million rand park in the next few months, with officials saying the facility would become a "great inner-city park", similar to those in cities around the world.

And while attention in recent years has been almost exclusively focused on the park's R4.5 billion neighbour, the Cape Town Stadium, the Green Point Park is bound to lure Capetonians and tourists alike far into the future.

The park has been silently taking shape while fanfare surrounds the stadium and the city says it hopes to have all construction and landscaping of the 12.5ha park, which cost R54 million to develop, completed in time for World Biodiversity Day on May 22.

Pete van Heerden, the city's 2010 planning co-ordinator, said it would serve the everyday recreational needs of people who lived and worked in the city and beyond.

It had to become a "people's park", he said, adamant that it was not for Atlantic Seaboard residents only.

The park would be open from sunrise to sunset throughout the year and would be freely accessible to all, he said.

Van Heerden said security would be of the utmost importance, to ensure that visitors felt safe and comfortable.

Landscape architect Johan van Papendorp said amenities had been designed to lure young and old and would also accommodate disabled people.

An "inclusive play area" was being built, with special playground structures for disabled children alongside the equipment for the able-bodied.

The Sea Point Rotary Club hadsponsored the equipment.

Adults would have a play area of their own, in the form of a "fitness precinct". This would have weather-resilient steel structures to cater to the fitness needs of park visitors.

Van Heerden said the common area, about the size of a cricket oval, would be kept clear so that the space could be used for events such as concerts, organic-produce markets or the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.

But most of the time the common would not be used for organised events and this was when families, friends and tourists could picnic and play.

There is also an amphitheatre, which is comparable in size to the one at the V&A Waterfront, and provision has been made for a tea room.

The park, which is shaped like a triangle with a "leg" abutting one corner, is accessible from four gates.

It is surrounded by a cycle track and a pedestrian walkway, with one path cutting straight from Western Boulevard on to the promenade, with the Mouille Point lighthouse the focus for most of the way and the Metropolitan golf course on the right.

Both Van Heerden and Papendorp waxed lyrical about the biodiversity garden, which is situated among bodies of water which will be fed by water flowing from Table Mountain which had previously run into the sea.

Van Heerden said the park would be irrigated by stormwater for now but that construction on the system which would use overflow from the mountain spring was in progress.

The park has already garnered praise from those observing its progress.

Urban Green File magazine commented recently that it was setting "a new standard" for landscape design of urban parks and public spaces in South Africa.

Cape Town Partnership chief executive officer Andrew Boraine, who inspected the area by cycle on January 23, the day of the first football match at the new stadium, said that he had no doubt that the facility would become "one of the best-used public open spaces in Cape Town".

While previously residents around the park had raised concerns over the stadium and surrounding developments, Marco van Embden, of the Mouille Point Residents and Ratepayers Association, said yesterday that people had "generally come to terms" with the idea that the development could be for the greater good.

Cape Argus

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