Community

Bordeaux South Park

Entrances are highlighted by Arches and Aloes, welcoming you into the Park

Entrances are highlighted by Arches and Aloes, welcoming you into the Park

Tucked away in the boomed off suburb of Bordeaux South (the suburb is roughly located between Hurlingham and Blairgowrie in Randburg) in Johannesburg, lies a beautiful community park. The Park is well maintained and cared for through the efforts of the active residents association (BSRA- http://www.bsra.co.za/) who have invested a fair amount of money into upgrading the Park and this has really made such a difference.

A quote from the Bordeaux South Residents Association website:

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” George Bernard Shaw

Clear Pathways, Seating, Litter Bins all contribute to making this an enjoyable park

Clear Pathways, Seating, Litter Bins all contribute to making this an enjoyable park

Bike Track with Traffic Lights for Kids

Bike Track with Traffic Lights for Kids

The Park is well used by families because of the extensive play equipment making this an amazing playground for kids of all ages. There are shady spots for picnics, several seating options, a volleyball court, a bike track with miniature traffic lights, and even a small free community library that residents donate books to.

Free Community Library

Free Community Library

New jungle gyms for smaller tots have recently been installed with rubber matting surfaces.

New jungle gyms for smaller tots have recently been installed with rubber matting surfaces.

Signage indicates the appropriate ages for the play equipment

Signage indicates the appropriate ages for the play equipment

Water Bowls for Dogs visiting the Park

Water Bowls for Dogs visiting the Park

The Bordeaux South Residents Association is making a difference at improving their suburb

The Bordeaux South Residents Association is making a difference at improving their suburb

Such a lovely park to visit if you have kids. Take Note that there are no ablution facilities at the Park.

Delta Park

Delta Park is one of my favourite outdoor spaces in Johannesburg and I regularly (almost weekly) go there to walk my dogs, picnic with friends, run or let my daughter play on the jungle gyms. It really is a wonderful, slightly wild space to visit to take a breather from city life. It is also a park that you can visit in every season and I always enjoy seeing the beautiful changes that take place throughout the year. The Autumn colours are particularly striking with a stunning display of golds, yellows, oranges and reds. This is preceded by an explosion of Cosmos flowers in the area where the veldgrass is left to grow tall. Even Winter can be striking with bare branches reflecting in the cool waters of the lakes. See images below taken on a cold and frosty Winter's morning:

Top Dam

Top Dam

Middle Dam

Middle Dam

Winter Reflections in Delta Park
Dogs love running free in the wide open spaces

Dogs love running free in the wide open spaces

The park is situated between Craighall Park, Victory Park and Blairgowrie in Johannesburg. It is 104 hectares and consists of mostly grassland and woodland with abundant birdlife which can be viewed from two bird hides. The park includes the fenced off Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary as well as the Delta Environmental Centre which offers environmental programmes to children and also has an auditorium and function room for hire. For a detailed history of the park and how it evolved from a sewerage works to the green space it is today see Jane Carruthers article on the Delta Environmental Centre website.

The Park is very well used, especially on weekends, and is frequented by joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, families that picnic or have birthday parties and is also often used as a location for photo shoots.

Sensitivity Map by Launch Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning - www.launchlandarch.co.za

Sensitivity Map by Launch Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning - www.launchlandarch.co.za

Poplar Walkway that borders the Delta Park School

Poplar Walkway that borders the Delta Park School

This field is stunning when the Cosmos are in flower

This field is stunning when the Cosmos are in flower

Graffiti in a few selected areas, like this old reservoir, give character and make a great backdrop for photo shoots

Graffiti in a few selected areas, like this old reservoir, give character and make a great backdrop for photo shoots

Children's Play Area

Children's Play Area

A walk around the perimeter of the park will take roughly an hour and is about 5km. This is also the route used by Park Run every Saturday where often up to 2000 participants enjoy some exercise. When the serious runners have left you will find many dog walkers often with their dogs off their leads. A riding stable nearby offers lessons and rides through the park so it is not uncommon to see horses being taken on a slow trot through the park. There are also Girl and Boy Scouts bordering the park.

Party on the Grass next to the Top Dam

Party on the Grass next to the Top Dam

Pathway along Top Dam where houses have opened up views onto the Park

Pathway along Top Dam where houses have opened up views onto the Park

I have two parts of the park that I particularly love: the Top Dam where the adjacent lawn and big trees make it a very tranquil and inviting space and you will often see groups of people gathering here. The other area is the walk along the Braamfontein Spruit. The Spruit connects Emmarentia Park in the South and runs all the way through the suburbs to Rivonia in the North. This green belt has enormous potential as a circulation route for pedestrians and cyclists. It is already well used by cyclists but the paths are very informal (a single dirt track mostly used by mountain bikers) and certain areas are inhabited by vagrants which creates a feeling of unease. It would be wonderful to see what this park could become if the City of Joburg had the budget to apply interventions. It could become a world class inner city park that allows for sport and recreation, creates linkages, creates work opportunities, brings nature back, promotes tourism, encourages healthier lifestyles and gives Johannesburg a positive and connecting network of green open space.

Top Dam - view across to Dam Wall

Top Dam - view across to Dam Wall

Blue Bridge into Green Belt from Craighall Park

Blue Bridge into Green Belt from Craighall Park

Walkway along Braamfontein Spruit in Green Belt underneath Pylons

Walkway along Braamfontein Spruit in Green Belt underneath Pylons

The beautiful River often with Yellowbilled Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Swallows and Lapwings to be seen. Sometimes the dogs jump in the water and chase the ducks around :)

The beautiful River often with Yellowbilled Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Swallows and Lapwings to be seen. Sometimes the dogs jump in the water and chase the ducks around :)

All images in this blog were taken using my phone so are unfortunately not the best quality. Even though it is advisable to leave your valuables at home when visiting any public place in South Africa, I often take my phone along and keep it hidden from view. 

Further Reading:

http://www.jhbcityparks.com/index.php/list-of-parks-mainmenu-39/36-delta-park

https://deltaenviro.org.za/rand-water-water-wise-garden/

http://www.parkrun.co.za/delta/

https://www.lucilledavie.co.za/single-post/2011/09/09/Birds-flock-to-Delta-Park

https://www.lucilledavie.co.za/single-post/2002/05/02/Delta-Park-proves-that-exotics-can-be-useful

IERM Convention: Leratong Park Site Visit

The annual IERM convention was held on the 28th,29th and 30th of September at Glenburn Lodge in Johannesburg. After two days of informative and insightful lectures everyone was excited to spend the third day out in the field to view some of the parks developed by Johannesburg City Parks (JCP). The atmosphere was relaxed and jovial as everyone climbed onto the luxury air-conditioned buses that the City of Joburg had sponsored, which we were so grateful for when the temperatures soared into the high thirties.

The first park we visited was Leratong Park where you are welcomed by a large red steel sculpture, consisting of several hands on tall masts shaped in the hand signal that means “I love you” in sign language. The park is situated in Region C, located in the Greater Roodepoort area near Krugersdorp, in an informal settlement and named after the nearby Leratong Hospital. 

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Puleng Ditabe, Regional Manager of Region C, shared insights into the park and described the two main challenges that they were faced, the first was finding suitable space for development. The park is in fact built on a servitude where Rand Water pipes run and ironically you will see signs throughout the park warning people to stay clear of the area because of the pipes running below, although this is quite the contrary now that the park has been built. Although it is risky this was one of the only open areas available and Rand Water and JCP were able to come to an agreement because the pipes do not need to be accessed regularly. The second challenge was vandalism as they had a recycling station that was burned. 

Puleng with David and Fortunate who are permanently employed to take care of the park

Puleng with David and Fortunate who are permanently employed to take care of the park

Vendor bordering the park

Vendor bordering the park

The park is 2 hectares in size and boasts numerous brand new facilities including: artificial turf soccer field, netball court, outdoor gym, braai areas, two playground areas, ablutions and a vegetable garden. The vegetable garden has not been handed over to the community yet and I imagine that managing this production in a public space has its own challenges. Planting Fruit Trees was raised as a question and Thabang Mokone from JCP mentioned that Urban Forestry and Food Security are priorities for the City of Johannesburg and educating people is what is needed for fruit trees to become successful. 

Playground

Playground

Soccer Field

Soccer Field

Food Garden

Food Garden

As with any successful park the community needs to take ownership and adopt the facility as its own. Only in this way will the community take pride in it and make sure that it is maintained and cared for. We met two of the community members who have been permanently employed to work in Leratong Park: David, head gardener, who reports to a senior horticulturalist and Fortunate who not only looks after the ablutions, but acts as a mother and caretaker to the park.

Leratong children

Many Olive and Bushwillow trees have been planted which is in line with the City of Joburg’s drive to make the Southern suburbs greener. The park is not fenced off and neighbouring houses are encouraged to have gates that open onto the park so that they can use and enjoy it. Phase 1 was completed in 2014 financial year and cost R1.7 million while Phase 2 was recently completed in 2015 and cost R2.4 million. A large amount of money was invested into this flagship park and it is evident that its investors care deeply about it, now it is up to the community to fall in love with it too.