The grass is a green turf on this side

Milnerton High School principal Paul Besner points towards the field behind the Milnerton Playhouse which will be developed into an additional sports field for the school.

It’s been in the pipeline for five years, but now Milnerton High School’s R7.5 million AstroTurf pitch and sports field are starting to take shape.

The AstroTurf pitch is being built on the school’s existing field and the new sports field is being built on land leased from the City behind the Milnerton Playhouse.

Principal Paul Besner believes the development will enhance Milnerton High’s sports capabilities. However, some residents are worried that it will prevent them walking their dogs. The leased land, now fenced off for construction, was previously used as a dog park.

Residents commented on the Milnerton High Facebook page after Grant Blackshaw posted news about the sports field development.

Alen Hilder said: “Could someone clarify the access by dog walkers? Grant Blackshaw’s post does not say anything about dog walkers and the public having access upon completion.”

Greg Packham said: “Total disregard in my opinion. The same way alternative solutions have to be made for established squatters, so do they need to find an alternative for the dog walkers. Unless there is one I don’t know about.”

Claudine Willatt-Bate said: “The current dog-walking field is being upgraded for the school and for the dog walkers to enjoy. Strict poo policy will be put in place, though. You can still use the field next to the municipality in the meantime.”

Bouwe van der Eems, a member of the Milnerton Central Ratepayers’ Association (MCRA), said the Milnerton sports field was used by dog owners who wanted to let their dog run around without a leash and that dog owners who walked their dogs with a leash could do so all over Milnerton.

“It is only a relatively small number of dog owners that will be affected and it is only for a limited period. Milnerton is attractive to families with children, due to it’s excellent schools, large free-standing houses and a location close to town. The initiative of Milnerton High School will entrench Milnerton as a family-friendly suburb,” said Mr Van der Eems.

Mr Besner said there would be plenty of space for residents to walk their dogs around the field once it had been completed, but they would have to comply with rules keeping it hygienic for pupils.

“We have done our research and there is an open field on Lupin Crescent, and there is a section of (a) field behind the library for residents to use during construction. There is also the park near Milnerton Primary School and the beach.

“Our plan is to beautify the field with proper grass and trees, so that it can be used as another sports field for our school.

“At the moment, it is an unkempt and untidy tract of land. Some people have been dumping on it. We have already been leasing it for approximately two years,” said Mr Besner.

He said the school’s hockey team was at a disadvantage, as many schools did not want to compete against them on their grass field. The team also had to travel to UCT or Hartleyvale to practice on those AstroTurf facilities, and the transport was costing the school R500 000 a year.

“If you take what we spend on transport per year, we might as well use that towards (building) our own AstroTurf.

“The AstroTurf will promote hockey and the quality of hockey players we produce. The grass field will accommodate our cricket team which is growing tremendously. We struggle with only two home pitches,” said Mr Besner.

The development is expected to be completed before the end of the year, and the school is planning to hold a series of events to celebrate, including an opening ceremony and a festival involving the school’s former hockey stars.

“It’s by far the most expensive single thing built at the school, and we are going to have a big party to celebrate.

“We are hoping it will have a positive impact on the community,” said Mr Besner.