Lahee Park is ‘a disgrace’

ONCE a place alive with activity, Lahee Park has fallen into a state of disrepair and become a haven for criminals.

Last week on Monday, a man was found hammering closed an old municipal sign that he was going to sell for scrap metal so that it wasn’t visible. He was arrested shortly afterwards.

“A resident down the road from the park contacted me to say there was a loud banging noise coming from the park. I contacted the police,” said Dave Randall, the general manager of a retirement village near the park. “I have a lot of residents who walk their dogs around and through the park and I am worried for their safety. At times, large groups of people come through to Lahee Park and use it as a drinking ground and everything is left behind. There are no proper ablutions to handle the crowds and the litter is disgusting,” said Randall.

During a recent visit to the park by the Highway Mail, the grounds were found to be overgrown, the tennis and netball courts were run-down with grass breaking through the flooring, condoms and condom wrappers had been strewn throughout the upper sections of the park, the seating grounds around the cricket field was overgrown and the hockey and rugby clubhouses were empty and derelict.

“We have such a beautiful asset here. The biggest problem we’ve got is that the zoning has changed from parks to stadia, but the budget has stayed with the Parks Department, and therefore cannot afford to have any permanent staff,” said Ken Goldstone of the Friends of Lahee Park association.

“People are scared to go to to Lahee Park as there is a criminal element that is attracted by the many entry and exit points. The park is supposed to be there for the members of the public to utilise, but to be safe when doing so. It is a disgrace that the city has allowed this to happen,” said Goldstone.

Dave Lindsay, the Lahee Bowls club president, said security in the park was a major issue as the palisade fencing had been broken in parts. “Before our heritage is completely destroyed, we implore the municipality, businesses sporting bodies, community organisations and the general public to act now and build a facility that we can all be proud of,” said Lindsay.

Goldstone noted that the Friends of Lahee Park was in the process of forming a trust, which will then apply to the council to take the park over and -through fundraising initiatives – generate its own funds for the upkeep of the grounds. “If the members of Pinetown can take it back, we can definitely turn it back into what it was before. We have the Commonwealth Games coming to Durban and this could be the perfect training ground for local and international athletes,” said Goldstone.


Lloyd Mackenzie

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