The advertised launch of the neighbouring Atlasville parkrun scheduled for August 11, has been postponed.
The postponement has come due to a number of issues raised around the parkrun by those who attended a public meeting, held during Clr André du Plessis’s ward 23 committee meeting at the Eden Retirement Village on July 18.
“It is sad to confirm that the Atlasville parkrun has been postponed until the issues are dealt with,” said Chris Sutton, Gauteng Regional Ambassador for parkrun.
“It seems that the council have received a response from the community, through the councillor, of the non-support of the parkrun.
“I would like to encourage the parkrun community to keep going to the Boksburg and Ebotse parkruns.
“We will be looking at alternative venues in the area, possibly Homestead Dam, and so we need a champion to volunteer and organise and be involved in the process with council which includes community meetings to explain parkrun etc.
“Thanks for all the commitment and effort put in by the community who wanted this parkrun.
“We will continue to do what we can to start more parkruns and overcome the obstacles because we believe and have experienced the positive change parkrun has had on the community and the parks.
“Our vision is to create a happier, healthier community.
“We strive to minimise the impact on the environment by starting more parkruns with fewer attendees.
“We would rather have 15 parkruns with 300 attendees than three parkruns with 1 500 attendees.”
Du Plessis has dismissed claims by some that it was he who ‘squashed’ the Atlasville parkrun.
“An event of this nature requires the input from the broader Atlasville community whose immediate surroundings will be affected,” said the ward councillor.
“I have emphasised it time and again that I have no mandate, nor authority to squash any community initiatives.
“There is a public participation process that needs to be adhered to, including an obligation from the council’s departments to liaise with the councillor, ward committees and the broader affected community.
“The majority of residents present at the last public meeting, to which the parkrun organisers were invited by Ekurhuleni officials, to provide input, indicated that they were not in favour of this proposed parkrun.
“There were also two multiple Comrades runners who attended the meeting, both of whom did not support this particular parkrun.
“It was thus a community decision and not mine.
“My main concern raised was the fact that the Parks Department had allegedly approved the parkrun, two days prior to the open public meeting, without following any consultation processes whatsoever.
“We had been in liaison with the Sports, Heritage, Arts and Culture Department (SHRAC) for the entire presentation process.
“It was the SHRAC Department who invited the parkrun organisers to the last public and ward committee meeting, and although they had given an undertaking to attend, we waited all evening in anticipation for them to arrive, but to no avail.
“Numerous concerns were raised by the community present, including possible disturbance to the birdlife plus the tranquillity of the park area as the route passes a well-utilised bird hide.
“The proposed 5km route was not ideal for a parkrun and it seemed as if it was being squeezed into an area not suited for a 5km parkrun.
“Other, more suitable venues, within close proximity, were suggested at the first meeting, however, these were not investigated nor considered, for example, the Homestead Lake area, Arrowe Park and Blaauwpan Dam.
“Participants would be using a lamp post in the park as a marker and as a turnaround point, which would result in congestion and inconvenience, especially for participants who want to enjoy a relaxed experience versus the more competitive participants who are chasing an improvement in their times.
“Participants would have to do multiple river crossings, not only over a very narrow footbridge, which will cause dangerous congestion and a problem for people with dogs and baby strollers but also over an area without a bridge, which is always flooded during the rainy season.
“This would result in participants having to run in the road, creating a danger to motorists as well as participants.
“A large portion of the route is not paved and thus very uneven, which may result in ankle and other injuries.
“A substantial portion of the start, as well as finish areas, are always flooded during the rainy season, again forcing participants to make use of the roads.
“Inadequate toilet facilities were also a concern.
“There’s only one men’s and one women’s toilet within the premises of the adjoining Total filling station.
“Another issue raised was the possible destruction of the grass surface within a public open park, proposed for the use of their parking, situated on Nightingale Street.
“The proposed parking area would be directly within the residential area and directly in front of the main, west side entrance to a townhouse complex, the Grenadines on Nightingale Street.
“The start and finish points would also be directly next to the eastern boundary wall of this same complex, thus causing a multiple nuisance for the residents of that particular complex.”
LISTEN to Paul Rotherham’s chat on Caxton Radio Benoni with the ward councillor regarding this story:
LISTEN to this TEASER: Paul Rotherham chats to parkrun South Africa founder and Comrades Marathon legend Bruce Fordyce on Caxton Radio Benoni about the Atlasville parkrun issues, listen out for the full interview on Caxton Radio Benoni:
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