Coast KZN

02 Feb 2021

Bluff VR Park project under scrutiny

Nothando Mthembu (Southlands Sun) Picture: Ward 66 councillor, Zoe Solomon on site at Van Riebeeck Park where the wood from the reclaimed boardwalk is situated and will soon be moved into the fenced off area where a raised walkway will be built

Development of the much anticipated Van Riebeeck (VR) Park project on the Bluff is underway into the next phase. After being put on hold last year due to the impact of lockdown, ward 66 councillor, Zoe Solomon, shared on the latest developments of the establishment of the wetland project at the park.

“Over the past two and a bit years, the environmental department of Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department (EPCPD) has been clearing alien trees from the wetland section of this project. The indigenous planting will follow,” she said.

The wetland section of this exciting project has been developed and there is a body of water whose basin is the reclaimed clay and soil from the demolished Clairwood racecourse, that currently holds 300 mm of water.

“A week ago, the reclaimed boardwalk from Cuttings Beach in Merebank was delivered to the site and this will be refurbished to create the raised walkways as described in the previous public participation meeting. Cuttings boardwalk was 200 m long, but it is explained that some will be lost in the breaking down, but we will have a good length go up.”

In response to the reclaimed boardwalk, chairperson of the BRA, Ivor Aylward, questioned why residents should accept second-hand timber. “As ratepayers on the Bluff, why should we accept second-hand walkways? Is it going to come to what they did when they dumped clay from the Clairwood Logistics Park? 18 000 cubic metres of it was dumped on the wetland because of piling that took place at the logistics park. Are we at that point again where we take somebody else’s rubbish, dumping it here and we must accept these conditions?” he asked.

Chairman of the Bluff Ratepayers’ Association, Ivor Aylward.

He compared the material to that at Finnemore Place where the whale watching deck is. “That was brand-new stuff used. Why must we now accept this type of rubbish? Where are they going to put this? There is no accountability nor transparency here. What will be the budget for building this walkway, how much will it cost the ratepayer?” questioned Aylward.

In a counter response, Solomon said that the EPCPD was environmentally conscious and in support of the ‘reuse, reduce and recycle’ approach to its projects. “They were quite happy with the condition of the wood. They are the specialists after all. They will only use wood that meets the required measurements and the rest will be discarded. This will be of no cost to the residents of the community as it is a sponsored project. Nico Prinsloo from the Clairwood Logistics Park, confirmed the company’s involvement with the project.

“As part of our environmental offset, we contributed money for survey work and research to assist the rehabilitation process,” he said.

Solomon said next on the cards for VR Park was to build a bird hide for avid birdwatchers and those keen to learn. “I have asked for a meeting with officials in the first week of February and will update and feedback thereafter,” said an excited Solomon, who hopes that the community will be pleased with the preservation of a green lung as well as the development of a previously unused area prone to invasion and the like.

“This project has been sponsored by the developers of the Clairwood Logistics Park so far as a responsibility to the people of the South Durban basin to replace the green lung we lost in the eradication of the flora and fauna of the racecourse. They had to give the project R2 million. That was negotiated between the builders of Logistics Park and the city. We had a public participation meeting on this at the beginning of this development. The EPCPD department will work closely, hand in hand, to fulfill the original dream for this section of the beautification and the upliftment of our wonderful Bluff,” concluded Solomon, who assured that details of another public participation meeting would follow before the project goes into its next phase.