Concern for the future of Gilray grounds

The Gilray scouts site in Grassy Park is leased on a month-to-month basis to the Western Cape Scouts group.

The Gilray Scout site has been an issue of contention and recently renewed calls have been made for the facility to be used for more constructive and community inclusive development.

The grounds between Klip Road, Victoria Road and Prince George is the property of the City of Cape Town and has been leased to the Western Cape Scouts since 1954 as a campsite and training facility.

There have also other activities like paintball and martial arts available at the grounds over the years.

According to the Western Cape Scouts website, the grounds were named after Carl Rayner and his wife Doris, who was known as “Gilkela” and was officially opened by the Cape Town Mayor Joyce Newton-Thompson.

It states that over the years many volunteers and groups have assisted in developments on Gilray and in recent years a trophy was awarded annually to the group assisting the most in maintaining Gilray over a year.

The Gilray scouts site in Grassy Park looks rundown and neglected, say residents’ representatives.

However, Lotus River, Ottery, Grassy Park, Ratepayers’ Association (LOGRA) said the site is grossly neglected, overgrown and an “eyesore” for the suburb of Grassy Park.

The association requested more information from the City of Cape Town about the future of the site and why there has been no improvement in the condition of the grounds.

Executive member Ursula Gross said the association also wished to be registered as an interested and affected party for future development of the site.

The campsite has been used by the scouts since 1954.

In an enquiry to the City, the association said they’re planning on consulting residents about their desires for the site.

“It would help us greatly if we could be informed of any plans for the land as we are aware that some organisations have expressed interest in developing the site but there was no community consultation at this stage.

“At the moment the site is just laying dormant with only a couple of activities but it’s gathering bush and shrubs. We’re waiting on the City to get back to us because we want the site developed for the community into, for example, a much needed rehabilitation centre,” said Ms Gross.

She said LOGRA hopes to get more info from the City and work together with the City to plan the future of the site.

Sub-council 18 chairperson Kevin Southgate said there had been discussions with regards to the use of the facility because at the moment it is not being optimally used.

“We have raised some concerns with regards to the Scouts having a lease there so there’s been a lot of to and fro about the facility and we’ve been at the site with officials from the property management branch.”

He said there have been requests to review the lease agreement because the Scouts very seldom have activities and are sub-letting the facilities and grounds.

The City said the lessees’ responsibility to maintain the premises.

“Other groupings meet there and they make money out of that and they don’t put anything back into the facility and that’s why the facility looks the way it does – an eyesore. Hence we’re calling for a review of the lease so that we can look at other possible usage for the place,” said Mr Southgate.

According to Mr Southgate the department of recreation and parks showed an interest in the portion of land to extend the Klip cemetery and there has also been interest shown by commercial developers to develop the space.

“We haven’t had any further discussions in that regard but there have been options that have been put out there so discussions are ongoing,” said Mr Southgate.

A section of the grounds will also have to be reserved for road extensions of the R300 eventually.

Jenny Martin from the Regional Group Development of the Western Cape Scouts said they are still making use of the facility and there have not been any official complaints brought against them but said she cannot comment any further.

“I’m surprised anybody would discuss the property and not contact the people that are currently there. I am not aware of any complaints so we are unable to do anything. When they contact us then we will reply but this is the first time we hear this information.”

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo confirmed that the grounds are still leased to the Scouts as a campsite on a month-to-month basis. When asked who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the grounds he said it is the lessees’ responsibility.

“The lessee will be advised of the maintenance responsibility in terms of the provisions of the lease agreement and monitored accordingly,” said Mr Tyhalibongo.

LOGRA will meet to discuss the Gilray grounds at the Isaac Jacobs Hall at the League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) in Grassy Park on Thursday August 31, at 7pm.