ATTWELL Gardens Park, a safe haven for youngsters to play and a welcoming spot for adults to unwind in the inner city, was officially opened on Saturday, 13 August.

Its opening concluded the Liveable Cities Week of the Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) 2040 activities.

Liveable Cities was the first of nine themes to be tackled during the mayoral outreach programme – GDS2040, which is calling for public participation in shaping Joburg’s future – that started on 2 August. Citizens have been asked to give their input on a range of issues, such as transport, housing, water and affordable energy supply.

The other eight themes are resource sustainability, health and poverty, governance, transportation, community safety, environment, economic growth, and smart cities.

Located on the corner of Plein and Rissik streets in the CBD, Attwell Gardens Park is immaculate and well-furnished. It has ablution facilities, an Astroturf soccer field, a multi-purpose court, landscaping, an irrigation system, Apollo lights and garden chairs.

Speaking at the opening of the R4,5-million park, the member of the mayoral committee for development planning and urban management, Ruby Mathang, said the City was committed to urban development.

Accompanying Mathang was the member of the mayoral committee for housing, Dan Bovu; the Ward 60 councillor, Nokuthula Xaba; and City officials.

“People need to access public amenities and facilities in the areas they interact [in] on a daily basis. We were told that we were too focused on building roads and movement patterns around vehicles and not enough [attention] is not given the pedestrians and their experience of moving though the city.

“It does not help to have one of the best transport systems in the country planted within a bleak and failing urban environment, or build beautiful inner city communities such as Hillbrow Ekhaya, without care for the general environment in the city,” said Mathang.

Attwell Gardens Park is in line with the Inner City Charter, approved by the City council in 2007, and the subsequent Inner City Urban Design Plan (ICUDP), which identified the commercial hub of the inner city as one of the top eight areas earmarked for regeneration in the short term.

“The ICUDP reflects on the critical need of a walkable network of pedestrian friendly routes supported by good quality public spaces that will link people to public transportation switch points and a range of private and public amenities in the inner city,” said Mathang.

He commended the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) for identifying the need for a park in the inner city, and building it. “This project is one of the milestones the JDA achieved during the 2010/11 financial year.”

Other projects undertaken by the agency in the inner city include upgrading Oppenheimer Park and the food court on Kerk and Von Brandis streets.

Attwell Gardens Park is open seven days a week, from 6am to 6pm. Security is on site when it is open to ensure the safety and security of users.