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One-year-old, R12 million Atlantis park vandalised

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Residents say the community has other priorities

Photo of a park
The Atlantis smart park built at a cost of just over R12 million was opened less than a year ago. Above: the seesaws have been stolen from their pivots. Photo: Peter Luhanga
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Built at a cost of just over R12 million, and opened less than a year ago in July 2017, the Atlantis park is falling into ruin as gangs have allegedly staked it out as their territory. Drug pushers are said to be active while pretending to enjoy the park. Vandals have removed swing sets and the seesaws, and damaged the water pipe which is now shut off.

GroundUp talked to residents who spoke on condition of anonymity. Residents said drug pushers used the park for their activities. One resident said the community had not been consulted by the City about whether the park was needed.

“Residents around the park are not interested in taking ownership of the park. They don’t see the need for the park. If they saw its value, they would have protected it,” he said.

The park has a lawn area with large trees providing shade for picnics and relaxation. The play area has equipment for toddlers and an adventure area for older children. There is also a synthetic pitch and a court for various sports; an outdoor gym for callisthenics; and pathways for walks and jogging.

The founder of X-Treme Youth Atlantis Empowerment, Michelle Fortuin, said, “I don’t really have an issue with the idea of a smart park, but I feel with all the social ills and struggles happening in our town, the smart park was not needed for now.

“Our youth was promised an internet café, which wasn’t realised; we don’t have a 24-hour youth centre where our kids can go to whenever the need arises; we don’t have drug rehabilitation centres – all things that are much more needed than a smart park,” said Fortuin.

She said the City had opened up the civic centres and was running after-school programmes, but only until 5pm during the week. There was nothing for the youth on weekends or after 5pm on weekdays.

“It just feels so ridiculous to have a smart park, while other things are so needed. It’s almost like having a Mercedes Benz to drive around in, but no roof over your head,” she said.

Mayoral Committee Member for Area North Suzette Little responded: “Unfortunately vandalism of City of Cape Town infrastructure is not only occurring in Atlantis. It’s a problem we are facing across the City. It’s people that don’t appreciate the things done for them. I’ll get my office to investigate.”

Youngsters use the park for skateboarding. From left to right: Devon Galant, Byron Jacobs and Dumarial Thomas. “We were happy, joyful when the park was opened; now its falling apart, vagrants and vandals are abusing the park,” said Jacobs. Photo: Peter Luhanga

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TOPICS:  City Gangs Youth

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