Ballantyne Park Conservancy appeals to residents to fence park

03 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Ballantyne Park Conservancy appeals to residents to fence park Ballantyne Park Conservancy Trust is appealing to residents to help protect the park.

Suburban

Suburban Reporter

The Ballantyne Park Conservancy Trust (BPCT) is requesting residents of Ballantyne Park to help by contributing money towards fencing the Blair and Staley Parks to safeguard the recreational spaces from being invaded in the wake of mushrooming illegal settlers on parks, open spaces and wetlands in Harare.

In a written request to homeowners in Ballantyne Park and surrounding suburbs, the BPCT, that recently got another 10-year period from the City of Harare to run and maintain the park, rallied residents to support this worthy cause if they were to safeguard Blair and Staley Parks from illegal activities and maintain the values of their properties and neighbourhoods, prevent crime and disease outbreaks.

Suburban got sight of the letter dated April 2, 2024 titled “Urgent Action: Future of Blair and Staley Parks and the value of your property”.

BPCT said Blair and Staley Parks are in danger of being invaded because they are not fenced and it will be difficult and costly to eject illegal settlers because the process requires court orders before any illegal settlers can be moved and their illegal structures demolished.

“The building of illegal shacks on wetlands and other open spaces is rampant in Harare. With laws as they stand shacks that spring up overnight cannot legally be removed without lengthy and costly court processes.

“Blair and Staley parks remain unfenced and are at risk of being targeted by illegal shack builders. Should the parks fall prey to this practice, removing illegal structures will be, in practice, impossible. Unmanaged jobless people living in the park will, as a mathematical certainty, drive problems with crime, litter and sanitation (which in turn will drive cholera – and other – outbreaks in the entire area),” reads the letter written by BPCT chairman Dr Hayden Eastwood.

Dr Eastwood said there have been consistent problems with illegal drinking and criminal behaviour in the park that has been impossible to clamp down on without an external fence and enforced closing time.

He warned that if the vices were left unchecked, home owners could suffer more than just crime and disease outbreaks.

Dr Eastwood said if left unchecked, house and rental prices will decrease by at least 10 percent. The Park committee consulted Jill Day from Palm Golding to estimate the value of houses in the area using two scenarios:

  • With a well-managed park that is safe and clean and
  • With an invaded park full of shacks, litter, crime, raw sewage and disease

“In the expert opinion of Palm Golding, illegal shacks in the park, together with crime, will reduce house values in Ballantyne Park by at least 10 percent. With an average house price in the area of $500 000, the value added to your property by the presence of a functional, safe, clean and well managed park is likely at least $50 000,” said Dr Eastwood.

The BPCT chairman said the park also helps to conserve rare bird species and provides an ecological reservoir in the area for grasses and trees.

“With shrinking green spaces the ecological role of the park is more important than ever. We must act now to keep the park.”

Dr Eastwood said the committee’s plan was to:

  • Get residents in the area to contribute to the costs of building a fence, US$7 500 will pay for the required 340m
  • Align the interests of the park with the City of Harare workers who currently live in the park but who, currently are not employed by the park and consequently, have no loyalty to the park.

These workers have agreed to pick up litter, cut grass and close the gates at 6pm (among other things) in exchange for cash bonuses and improvements to their living conditions.

“If we come together as a community this will be a small cost per household. Fencing the park and aligning incentives with the existing inhabitants is the best chance we have of keeping the park and surrounding area attractive, clean and crime free. It is the best chance of protecting the biodiversity in the area. Support the park because beauty is worth achieving as its own reward. Support the park because it’s a lovely place to run and walk your dog. Most of all; support the park because it’s in your direct financial interest to do so.

If we do not act now Blair and Staley parks will go, and they will take your house with them.”

 

Those willing to contribute can call 0779451256 or email [email protected]

 

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