Skating hold-up

The money is in the bag for a much-anticipated Hout Bay skate park, but the site for it remains occupied by an emergency camp for thousands left homeless by the March fire, and it’s uncertain when it will be cleared.

A R350 000 windfall from the Newlands Rotary Club means the Rotary Club of Hout Bay – which itself has raised more than R300 000 – can break ground on the Eyethu Skatepark, to create a safe recreational space for 9 000 Hout Bay children.
But while everything is ready to start construction, the Rotary Club is in the dark about when the City plans to relocate the fire victims from the site near the Hout Bay Sports Complex.

The skate park has been in the pipeline for four years. The site next to the sports fields opposite the police station, was made available by the City, and the deal was sealed in February last year after the final documents were signed with the City’s sport, recreation and amenities department (“Setting a date to skate,” Sentinel March 4, 2016).

Rotary Club of Hout Bay president Joelle Searle acknowledged there was a dire need for temporary shelter after the fire left more than 10 000 people homeless, but she said the sooner the camp’s residents were relocated to more permanent sites, the sooner the project could start.

“Our three-year lease of the land will be extended, and hopefully with the dry weather we can begin construction then,” she said.

“The fact is there is very little for kids in Hout Bay, so it is important they have an integrated gathering point and a safe space where they can be with their buddies

“It is dangerous for them to skate on the roads, but once the skatepark is up and running you will find that it is only kids looking for mischief who will roam the suburbs. Our intention is to get the children of all three Hout Bay communities together.”

In the interim, skateboarding sessions have been organised on Baviaanskloof Road, thanks to the involvement of resident Vicky Scheffel and her team, who have also designed the skate initiative’s website. But the Rotary Club’s Peter Dutton said some skateboards had gone missing and fencing in the area was inadequate so the club wanted to find a shipping container to store the skateboards.

The establishment of the skatepark is expected to happen at the same time the City-driven Hout Bay Family Park, also anchored by the Hout Bay Sports Complex, gets off the ground.

Construction on the park -which would include a hard court, a terraced spectator area and parking has been earmarked for the first quarter of next year.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, said planning for the park was done, but work on it could only start when the site was clear.

“For the moment, no definite timelines have been set. We will determine the way forward early in the new calendar year,” he said.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said both facilities were a “win-win-win proposal” and would provide a “safe space for people to enjoy recreation”.