Beachfront in need of attention, says TVRA

ATHINA MAY

A community walkabout on the Table View beachfront revealed not only that infrastructual upgrades are required, but also that the beach is not easily accessible to the elderly and the disabled. Ward 23 councillor, Nora Grose, however, has assured the community that beachfront upgrades are “an absolute priority”.

The beachfront inspection, organised by the Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA), took place on Friday March 18.

But quadraplegic Ryan McConnachie’s hopes of taking part in the initiative and sharing his insights, were dashed when he was forced to stay behind because he was unable to access the beach in his wheelchair.

While the City’s Mayco member for community services and special projects, Belinda Walker, last year announced on radio that maintenance and refurbishment work on posts and rails, boardwalks, benches

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and public ablution facilities had taken place in the last two years, those who took part in the inspection felt the facilities were in a state of disrepair.

Sand covered the paved walkways which had been broken in many sections, and wooden pathways lay buried under the dunes, no longer visible.

Broken irrigation piping lay uncovered on the beach, while electrical wiring at light poles was exposed.

“Our biggest challenge is liability because this is gross negligence, someone will hurt themselves. The whole path up is riddled with broken paving. How is it accessible to young mothers with prams and those with low mobility?” asked TVRA chairman, Leon Alhadeff.

Those inspecting the beach also felt that money being spent on planting grass on the beachfront, could have been better spent.

“This is all to appease the press and quell fires arising from the community about the beach. It’s not sincere, it is a knee-jerk reactions. We’re here to find out what’s happening at sand level, since we don’t have grass. According to Belinda Walker R1.5 million has been spent on the beachfront, but what has been done?” said Mr Alhadeff.

Steven Staunch pointed out that the outdoor gym alongside Ward 23 councillor Nora Grose’s office appeared to be second-hand equipment and that a poor job had been done of the welding, while Larrique Jackson demonstrated that the gym equipment was not working properly.

Brand-new benches on the beachfront were also loose and could easily be moved as they were not properly secured.

The ablution facilities, although cleaned, were being swallowed by the dunes while only the roof the facility opposite Marine Circle remained visible.

“What is it that we see that they don’t see?” said Mr Alhadeff.

Ms Walker, however, said efforts to maintain the beachfront are under way and ongoing.

Among the work being undertaken is the first of four phases of the installation of an irrigation system on the dune at Dolphin Beach, which is scheduled to be finished within the next few months.

She also said that in the past two years, the public ablution facilities had been refurbished and that the damage caused recently by vandalism had been repaired at a cost of more than R1.5 million. A quick inspection of the abultion block, however, revealed cracked ceilings and disconnected electrical wiring, leading the residents taking part in the walk-about, to question what the money had been spent on.

With regard to the shifting dunes, Ms Walker said the dunes’ rehabilitation, which includes the reshaping and planting of grass and flora, will be targeted once the irrigation has been completed.

“All infrastructure along the coast is affected by windblown sand. The constant removal of sand is very costly and time-consuming and stabilisation of the dunes is the most sustainable and cost-effective solution.

“The irrigation repairs are about R700 000 and other (additional) repairs and maintenance work will cost about R550 000 for this financial year,” said Ms Walker.

She added that a dune study is currently being undertaken by an external dune specialist and it is hoped the study will guide and improve the beachfront Maintenance Management Plan (MMP) which is in place to ensure the rehabilitation of the Beachfront dune system.

On the matter of accessibility to the beach for the vulnerable and disabled, Ms Walker said that an analysis of the current access points to the beaches had been done to understand disabled-friendly access points as well as water sport friendly access points and their durability.

Repairs to these points and the boardwalks, posts and rail fencing are scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the summer.

Ms Grose said she has escalated concerns around the beachfront upgrades.

“Now is the time for this area. This plan has been on the table since 2013. We take the beachfront very seriously and it was on my mission statement, to promote the beachfront and protect the environment, before I became councillor.”

“We cannot do the upgrades in isolation. They need to be done as a whole. We’ve identified the problems and we’re working on them. I would like to invite people to email me their complaints. We cannot go round and round the same problem, come and meet me and we’ll discuss a solution,” said Ms Grose.