Staff Reporter Windhoek-If you are in Swakopmund you will possibly see the lush green gardens along the beach in Vineta suburb. So welcoming and picturisque are the gardens that one is enticed to get out of the vehicle and take a few selfies and snap chat with the background of lush gardens rolling into the ocean. What is not known by many members of the public is that these public gardens are an initiative of the homeowners whose property line Vineta beach. Set between the beach and residences, the gardens are an extension of the municipality’s gardens along the walkway which starts at the Mole. The gardens are becoming more established and attractive, drawing an ever-increasing number of Swakopmunders to walk, jog, play football or cricket, fly kites or just relax with a family picnic. The spectacular flowerbeds are used as a background for colourful wedding group photo sessions. School groups and sports clubs use the lawns for training exercises and people frequently sit and eat lunch with friends during breaks from nearby worksites. These gardens are known as the Paddock Gardens, and were set up by the homeowners who wanted to transform the sandy desert beach into something more attractive. The garderns came to fruition through a trust, called Paddock Gardens Trust, that was established in 2002 “when homeowners whose properties overlook the Paddock decided to collaborate to protect and develop the area between their houses and the sea as an open, accessible and attractive public garden”. According to the trust, the Swakopmund Town Council passed a resolution granting the trust user rights over the Paddock and agreed to support the project materially, providing grass for the initial lawns, plants for the interlinking areas, grey water, technical assistance and the occasional use of machinery. “The Paddock Gardens Trust has committed itself to the development and upkeep of the gardens and to the administration of the project,” says the statement from the trust. The trust employs a local gardening service, and engages a Swakopmund accounting firm to oversee the trust’s financial transactions and the purchase of essential gardening equipment. These expenses are met by a fund comprising members and supporters of the trust. Annual contributions are voluntary and the level of contribution is determined by trust members at the annual general meeting. Interestingly, the trust members say there have been attempts by property developers via applications to the council to take control of the Paddock – to lease or purchase the land. “However, because of the council’s commitment to support community-driven projects that aim to uplift the town, and because of the successful work of the PGT which has transformed a once neglected, vandalised and litter-ridden patch of sand, into an attractive, well-used public garden, all such proposals have been turned down,” read the statement. The project also fulfils one of the council’s stated aims in its Medium and Long Term Plan for Swakopmund, which prioritised the creation of accessible recreational green spaces, and the development of the whole Swakopmund beachfront, as opposed to the current over-concentration on the Mole/Strand Street section. For the past 16 years local residents – organised into the Paddock Gardens Trust and electing an operating committee – have been developing, maintaining and running the park. Most members are passionate about it, parting voluntarily with a yearly contribution to keep the gardens going and protect them against builders and business people keen to turn the age-old common land into privately owned real estate. “It is a rare example of community spirit in action: a local initiative, backed by the council, that has led to the creation of a well-used, well-loved recreation area,” said the statement.
2017-12-21 09:39:57 8 months ago