Residents’ cries for park falling on deaf ears

Westridge residents say they need a park in Stable Crescent because there’s nowhere nearby for children to play.

Stephen de Jongh, 64, from Westridge said there was a great need for a park as children had to walk a fair distance to Westridge gardens, which is the nearest play facility .

“All we are asking is for a simple park, that’s all,” he said.

Standing on the empty field, Mr De Jongh said: “Look here, there is no place for our children to play. We have asked for a park during public meetings, but no one listens to us. The children have nothing to do during school holidays, so what they do is they roam around the streets. That is how they engage in wrongful activities,” he said.

Mr De Jongh said there were many benefits to having a play park in the area, among them physical, and social development.

“I picture our children engaging in games and activities in the park. As residents we will keep a close eye on them because we do have a criminal element in the area,” he said.

Keagan Amos, from Westridge, agreed with Mr De Jongh, adding that when residents had requested a park years ago, they installed a basketball court instead.

“There is an empty court on this field, but the equipment such as the poles and lights were stolen. So now, there is nothing. We are not saying we don’t appreciate the court, it’s just that there is nothing to accommodate the younger children.

“I hope this request will be taken into consideration,” he said.

Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, said on February 23, he convened his councillor’s report-back meeting with Stable Crescent residents to introduce himself as the new ward councillor as the area had previously been part of another ward.

“At the meeting, the current financial year’s projects were tabled. The community did raise the issue of the park. They were informed that the ward has four sectors and each sector has a priority list for consideration,” he said.

Mr Andrews said the request for a park upgrade would be considered as part of the ward plan.

“The two open spaces nearest to Stable Crescent are adjacent to Park Avenue, which is one of the busiest roads in Westridge and has a high volume of traffic throughout the day which presents a safety concern. It is for this reason that the two open spaces only have sitting equipment installed at the moment.

“At the end of Stable Crescent is a greenbelt which is an open space adjacent to the Westridge dunes. This presents a high level of risk when one considers potential criminal activity,” he said.

However, said Mr Andrews, the installation of a park at the dune side was possible if funding became available, but it would need to be fenced, which is very expensive.

He added that such a venture would also need to involve extensive public engagement to ensure that the community took ownership of any park development to minimise the risk of criminality and vandalism.