Skatepark on a roll

Stakeholders and children celebrate the news that the Eyethu skatepark has been given the green light.

After four long years, the City of Cape Town has finally given the Eyethu skatepark the go-ahead and ground could be broken on the project as early as next month.

The skatepark project is expected to create a safe recreational space for children from all walks of life in Hout Bay and beyond.

The Rotary Club of Hout Bay and community volunteers ran an extensive fund-raising campaign for the project.

The team of community volunteers is led by Vicki Scheffel, the Eyethu skatepark project co-ordinator.

The site, next to the sports field at the Hout Bay sports complex, was made available by the City, and the deal was sealed in February 2016 after final documents were signed with the City’s sport, recreation and amenities department (“Setting a date to skate,” Sentinel March 4, 2016).

However, the Imizamo Yethu fire in March last year put the roll-out on hold, as the sports complex was used to shelter victims of the fire. They have since been relocated, and two weeks ago, the City gave final approval for the skatepark.

A relieved Peter Dutton, of Rotary Hout Bay, said it was important to start breaking ground on the project without further delay.

“How do you explain the feeling we have now? For so long you are expecting this thing to happen, and then it doesn’t due to other circumstances. Then all of a sudden you are given the go-ahead. It’s not instant euphoria. It takes a while to sink in,” Mr Dutton said.

Last week, the Rotary club and the skatepark’s designer and architect, Lawden Holmes, met with their quantity surveyor and engineer to plot the way forward. They hope to break ground by the end of October.

“We are aiming to be finished by Christmas, but, as with all projects of this nature, the timeline is dependent on weather and cash-flow,” Mr Dutton said.

The local Rotary club and Eyethu volunteers have raised more than R850 000 for the project, thanks to donations from its own members as well as Peninsula Beverages through the Newlands Rotary Club, Totnes Devon Rotary Club and the 790 Directory. Crowd-funding and golf days have also helped to bring in the money.

“We still need an additional R300 000 to R400 000, as we don’t know if we will fall short on the budget, so we are hoping to raise these funds soon.”

Mr Dutton said the role of companies that had come on board could not be understated.

“Our president, Keith Bull, was on radio with CapeTalk’s Kieno Kammies. Kieno then got a call from Gareth Jones, of Amandla Construction, who offered to do all the ground clearance and core build up of the site free of charge. That has been massive for us. I don’t even know the actual worth of this, but we are truly grateful for this offer.”

Craig Klu, of Mica Hardware, has also offered to provide building materials at cost price.

Mr Dutton paid special tribute to Mr Holmes, of Vivid Architects, who worked on the plans and artist’s impressions.

“He has been terrific, staying on the City’s back to follow-up on what was happening. He used his lunch breaks and weekends to work on the project, so it’s really been him who’s driven this for us at design and City level.”

The input of Dallas Oberholzer, South African skateboarding legend and founder of the Indigo Youth Movement which takes the sport to new communities, had also been invaluable, Mr Dutton said.

Mr Oberholzer has worked on the designs, building of numerous skateparks around South Africa and the final technical build will be done by Indigo Youth Movement.

“It has been a real labour of love for everyone involved,” Mr Dutton said.

“We also cannot ignore the support and enthusiasm over all this time from locals such as MJ Johnson, a local skater who acted on a Facebook post four years ago and initiated the Eyethu movement; Sulaiman Wyngard; Wonga Lucas; and Alex Meyer, to name but a few. Thanks also to all the kids who have joined Vicki at her Saturday skate clinics at Baviaanskloof Road.”

The City’s mayoral committee member for area north, Suzette Little, said the recreation and parks directorate had allocated available land within the Hout Bay sports ground for the proposed development.

“A three-year lease agreement was entered into with the Rotary club, with the understanding that they would, in turn, raise funds for construction of the facility, as well as assume responsibility for management of the skatepark,” she said.

“The recreation and parks department continues to support the initiative and believes this skatepark will add value to the precinct. The Hout Bay sports ground is a family recreation area with good potential to attract and engage the youth in positive recreation through the addition of a skatepark.”