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A R4-million upgrade of Ivory Park's only formal public green space has done more than merely spruce up and refurbish the award-winning facility.

More than just a facelift for Ivory Regional Park
Residents expressed their appreciation of the new mini-football pitch with an impromptu aerobics session. (Photos by Rudo Mungoshi)

There was a flurry of activity in Ivory Park in north-east Johannesburg on Friday, 29 May as local residents flocked to celebrate the opening of their newly upgraded outdoor space, Ivory Regional Park.

The park is the only formal public green space in a township of over 100 000 residents. When it opened in 2007, it received a LivCom (International Awards for Livable Communities) Award from the United Nations Environment Programme.

The R4-million upgrade by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), started in February and completed just in time for Friday's opening, has done more than merely spruce up and refurbish the facility.

Besides the new park benches and picnic and braai facilities, the park now features a revamped entrance, a state-of-the-art children's play area with rubberised surfaces, an outdoor gym, fitness track, and mini-soccer pitch.

The commemorative tree planting
JCPZ Managing Director Bulumko Nelana (left) looks on as Community Development MMC Chris Vondo pitches in with the commemorative tree planting.

Speaking at the opening, JCPZ Managing Director Bulumko Nelana said parks and playgrounds were vital components of liveable communities.

"It is an exciting moment for the JCPZ and we pride ourselves in providing facilities that are relevant to the community," Nelana said. "Because of high usage by the community, it was starting to lose its lustre and needed another makeover."

Chris Vondo, City of Joburg mayoral committee member for community development, said that, as a key recreational area for Ivory Park, "it was time that this important space received an upgrade to maintain its status as an award-winning park".

Vondo praised the community for taking their share of responsibility for the park, where there have never been reported cases of vandalism, despite the high unemployment and poverty levels in the area.

The state-of-the-art children's play
The state-of-the-art children's play area will soon see plenty of use.

"We've always had great support from the community, which has enabled us to make some improvement to the park."

Local resident Anna Mngomezulu, who has been living in Ivory Park for over 24 years, expressed her appreciation for the upgrade. "I am very pleased to see this important upgrade reach completion," she said. "Many of us residents will use and enjoy the changes."

Colbert Mukovhadenge, another local resident, said the improved facility was far more appealing. "It is a lot nicer and more different, I will be coming here more often than before," he said.