Richard Midgley, Chairman of the Marina da Gama Association’s Executive Committee (MDGA ExCom), presents his latest mid-year report back.
Our Executive Committee members
The Marina’s demographic profile is always changing and our perception is that more and more younger families are moving in. Accordingly, we are very happy to have brought on board Ulf Martz as our Infrastructure portfolio holder and Dominique Erasmus to head up Events. With an eye on the MDGA ExCom’s future leadership, they will complement our three other youngsters – Nick Bode (Waterways), Lise Carswell (Environment, Parks & Gardens) and Tharwah Davids (Treasury, Compliance).
Lead by Patrick McKenna, our Communications team has upgraded all our social media platforms and improved the delivery of our weekly email newsletter, statements, and general communication efforts. With transparency, accountability, and two-way communication in mind, the team also posts the minutes and financials from our monthly ExCom meetings on our website.
We are currently completing the production of a welcome pack for new residents, which we are sure existing residents will also welcome. This booklet includes updated information and contact details for all our main service providers and City of Cape Town departments.
Our longer-term intention was to finance our expanded communication services and resulting costs by attracting advertisers, who are now coming to the party and helping to increase our monthly advertising revenues.
Dominique Erasmus has boundless energy and great ideas, which she is already putting into action. We welcome her appointment as an opportunity to bring the Marina spirit back into the MDGA ExCom and look forward to organising many exciting events in the future.
Through his work as a consulting engineer managing infrastructure projects, Ulf Martz has managed to build great contacts within the City of Cape Town and the provincial government. These will help enormously to ensure we are speaking to people at the right level in our efforts to drive the Marina in the right direction. His networks will also help to ensure we get our fair share of limited resources.
Starting with Mayoral Committee Members and Councillors, we recently engaged the City with targeted questions about sewerage spills, the new and future Kingfishers, and infrastructure such as the Marina’s pump stations and road network. This exercise has opened a whole new level of interaction with local government officials that we will continue to build on. We are particularly encouraged by the detailed and prompt responses we have received to date.
Parks & Gardens
Under Lise Carswell’s guidance, our gardening reps have taken to beautifying the Marina like ducks to water. We have Andie Pycroft covering Eastlake Island from Battleridge across Cannon Island to Eastlake Island; Koemi Rowe and Tina Roberts covering Uitsig; and Silvia Stringer looking after Park Island. They are ably supported by a team of six gardeners under capable leadership of Staffa Hussein, who service the Marina every Tuesday. Eugene Rayners, manager of Parks and Recreation, can always be relied on to assist with clearing refuse from our public areas and helping the Gardening team with special requests. Our feedback has been amazing and the results are self-evident. What a great result for everyone ‒ and thank you to all those involved for your selfless service to our residents.
We committed to securing the Marina’s perimeter. Over the last year, we have assisted residents to secure Prince George Drive by repositioning and upgrading electric fences and installing spikes. We have finished clearing 1.5 metres along the Battleridge wall and installed cameras at either end of Battleridge Road to provide full protection.
At the AGM in 2018, residents voted to ring-fence R350,000 to cover Phase 1 and 2 of the security camera installation project. Phase 2 covered Uitsig’s north wall over the public open space to Coniston Park. We have now finished the installation of the cameras on the north wall. As a result, both phases we envisaged have now been completed within the allocated R350,000 budget.
Under Peter Allen’s strong leadership, we meet regularly with our various security groups and neighbourhood watches in Battleridge, Cannon Island, Fisherman’s Walk, Uitsig as well as Elisa and the Park Island security group to discuss shared issues and concerns.
We also meet monthly with the SAPS Muizenberg Commander and his team to share concerns and offer assistance. We actively participate in the Muizenberg Joint Crime Combating Forum, which includes all the security company’s operating in the area, Law Enforcement, Traffic plus the various neighbourhood watches, Vrygrond community leaders, and Community Police Forum members. The aim: to keep updated and share our concerns.
Graham Barratt is training a beady eye on transgressions within the Marina and, with most lockdown restrictions now a thing of the past, active follow-ups are taking place. We have had some very successful resolutions to long-standing issues. They have involved removing oversized Wendy houses and stopping anti-social behaviour. With the start of summer and the relaxation of water restrictions, we expect a number of house painting complaints being resolved.
Under the guidance of Paul Higgins, Archcom has developed a speedy and professional service ethic. Collaborating with residents and the City’s Planning teams, the committee has accelerated the approval of acceptable developments within the Marina. We are busy revising the Design Manual, which will be voted on at the next AGM. It will be ready for distribution to residents early in the new year.
Tharwah Davids has brought a fresh and skilled vision to our Treasury activities. As an attorney working for a big four accountancy firm, she offers us invaluable advice.
On the book-keeping front, we have really benefited Janet van Rensburg’s professionalism, which has enabled us to publish monthly financials in the first two weeks of following month, helping to speed up our budgeting cycle while improving accuracy.
Waterways and ZPAAC
Through Nick, Paul and Lise, we are very active on the Zandveli Protected Areas Advisory Committee (ZPAAC), and we are in the loop in terms of action steps and communication. The new ZPAAC members are incredibly knowledgeable about the vlei and are very eager to make a difference.
Whenever the Kingfisher is out of action, the MDGA gets actively involved in clearing our waterways of slimy green floating algae. The good news is that the Kingfisher has been repaired again, and has started working the waterways. Things are progressing to plan with the new Kingfisher, which should arrive in the first quarter of next year.
In an effort to encourage closer collaboration between interested parties in Zandvlei, the City is now sending us regular water quality reports. You can see the latest test results here.
None of these achievements would be possible without the exceptional dedication, empathy, friendliness, and professionalism of our office staff, Marcia Fritz and Robbie Johnston. We extend a great big thank you to them on behalf of all our residents. The introduction of a credit card machine has dramatically reduced the cash we carry in the office. We have also have bought a UPS, so Marcia’s computer and internet is now always on – load-shedding or no load-shedding.
None of the productive activities that we are driving would be possible without residents playing their part, starting with paying their subscriptions timeously. We are a caring body, but we cannot expect paying residents to sponsor non-payers, especially when outstanding sums have added up over many years. We understand the hardships inflicted by the pandemic. Equally, however, we also understand the importance of maintaining sound financials for residents, with a reserve to protect them in future. As a result, we do not apologise for the tough and determined approach we take to
debt collection. As these figures show, our efforts are bearing fruit:
|Year||2021 Y/E||2022 YTD||Diff|
|2017||R44 511||R35 997||R8 514|
|2018||R35 997||R22 465||R6 332|
|2019||R28 797||R39 351||R44 060|
|2020||R83 411||R72 283||R139 919|
So, to date we have collected over R190,000 of outstanding subscriptions and bad debts, and we are not finished yet. In terms of our constitution, we cannot write-off bad debts unless residents have left the Marina and become untraceable. The best we can do for residents that are struggling is to assist with a mutually acceptable payment plan. This plan must not allow the debt to increase as and when new annual subscriptions are levied.