The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has recommended that Joubert Park be converted to a taxi rank as a temporary measure while the Jack Mincer Garage is being reinforced and enlarged to hold many more taxis. This will be cheaper because the City owns the Park. Ultimately JDA will apply for the budget to reinstate the park. It will be less inconvenient for the shops and traders in the areas.
Actually NO ! NO! NO! and forever NO!
The City of Johannesburg has an appalling record of converting the parks – its “Cheap land” – into parking garages, bus terminuses or selling them off for profit. In 1886 when the town was laid out there were SEVEN PARKS within that triangle known as Randjeslaagte:
- The Market Square now Beyers Naude Square
- Church Square : now Gandhi Square – a bus terminus
- Von Brandis Square : now occupied by the Johannesburg Sun (the City moved the statue of von Brandis)
- Union Grounds: now a shopping centre above Jack Mincer taxi rank – we were the only objectors to that disgraceful sale of open space in a very densely populated section of the City
- Plein Square: Half of it went to the Technical College, now a private college, and half is still open as Attwell Gardens and crowded daily.
- Kruger Park & Wanderers : Now the Johannesburg Railway Station
- Joubert Park: Part of it occupied by the Johannesburg Art Gallery, much of it sliced off by the roads, but some it left. A little patch of green in a sea of concrete.
THAT IS NOT A PROUD RECORD. IT IS AN APPALLING DISGRACE SHOWING UTTER CONTEMPT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO USE THE PARKS, QUITE OFTEN THE HOMELESS AND UNEMPLOYED, YOUNG MOTHERS WITH SMALL CHILDREN, GRANNIES WITH THEIR ORPHANNED GRANDCHILDREN.
Where are these people supposed to go? Must they be condemned to stay in tiny spaces indoors when we have the most wonderful climate in the world?
How the JDA has even contemplated this is astounding and shows yet again that the City of Johannesburg values motor cars above human beings. The problem has existed for more than a decade.
What options have been investigated?
- Have they established how many of the neighbouring properties owe rates, light and water which exceed property value and could be taken over and demolished?
- Have they met Transnet to see how much land they could use there?
- Have they made any effort to buy buildings east of Joubert Park for instance?
- MOST SIGNIFICANTLY have they investigated the only really good long term solution DECKING THE RAILWAY LINE south of the art gallery? That way they would actually IMPROVE the area for the local residents and the commuters, reduce the flow of urine which pours down the south side of the railway line and give the Art Gallery what it needs – space for a formal entrance court.
- We opposed and lost the closure of the middle Westdene Dam – now a rugby field for UJ.
- We opposed and lost the Ockert van Wyk Park in Richmond now a private residence for students, a petrol station and commercial office block.
- We opposed and lost Rosebank Park South in Rosebank now an office block.
- We opposed and lost the construction of shops on the Library Gardens. Thankfully, Gauteng Province removed these blighted buildings and gave us back our main square.
- We opposed and lost the closing of Union Grounds for a shopping centre
- We opposed and won the alienation of part of Marks Park for the relocation of Helpmekaar High School
- We opposed, and I hope we have defeated, the sale of the north bank of Wemmer Pan in Pioneer Park
- We opposed and defeated a shopping mall on the north bank of Zoo Lake.
We do not intend to lose Joubert Park. We do not accept the proposal as being temporary. We have lost enough parks in Johannesburg to prove that the City has always regarded parkland as expendable.