17 April 2010

Getting there, but it's going to be close

WITH tickets being sold at a frenzied rate, preparations in Port Elizabeth for the 2010 football fiesta are continuing apace - but some areas are lagging worryingly, especially the paving and roadworks near the stadium, and various other upgrades.

We did a windswept tour of part of the city and found a few new developments at the stadium, while the upgrade to the iconic Donkin Reserve, not far from the planned Fan Park at St George's Park in Central, looks very far from completion. To their credit, though, they were working on the project on a Saturday.

Another major problem around the city is the proliferation of weeds on sidewalks, and along the entire middle island of the bus rapid transit project in Govan Mbeki Avenue, formerly Main Street. But let's take a quick peek at what's happening with less than two months to kick-off.

The grassing of the last section around the stadium - next to North End Lake - is almost done. But, as this picture shows, there is still more equipment being stacked for heaven knows what.

Homage to the workers. We found this hard hat on the new lawn near the lake, and you can relax, there isn't a man buried up to his forehead underneath it!

Spot the geese! A group of Egyptian geese welcome the return of the lakeside to them as open territory after the years of upheaval. Not sure whether this road will be tarred or paved.

This neat piece of paving on the Milner Avenue side of the stadium has acquired a temporary fenced off area with about a dozen new containers and equipment, including aircon units. Hopefully they'll be gone soon.

Scenic splendour. The wind tears through a palm in the newly grassed area.

Paving along Fettes Road is nearly complete, with young trees planted.

There are still some disturbingly unfinished areas in Fettes Road, however. More worrying is the top of Harrower Road, where roadworks are far from finished.

The practice pitch off Fettes Road has been levelled with permiter grass planted, but nothing on the surface itself.

This large tree was one of many that survived the stadium development on the former Prince Alfred's Park. When we first started monitoring the stadium's progress, we spotted an old carpet which had somehow found itself hanging from the top branches. It has finally been removed.

Earthworks on the Donkin Reserve.

It is not quite clear what is being done to the Donkin Reserve, although the Mandela Bay Development Agency has revealed plans to instal public sculptures and a giant SA flag. One hopes the significance of Sir Rufane Donkin's pyramid, built in honour of his wife Elizabeth, after whom the city was named in 1820, will be accorded the necessary respect.

Some of the changes to the Donkin seem quite extensive. Again it is hoped the area won't lose its character whereby the combination of the pyramid and lighthouse are the dominant features.

Part of changes on the Donkin entailed the relocation of the palm trees from in front of the Edward Hotel to the Donkin Street/Belmont Terrace corner. Behind can be seen the row of historic Donkin Street terrace houses dating back to the mid to late 19th century.

With earthworks in the foreground, behind can be seen some of the Donkin Street terrace cottages which their owner has allowed to deteriorate to a dangerous level.

The row of Donkin Street houses have been likened to the "Painted Ladies" in San Francisco, USA. This image, from Wikipedia, shows just how well the Americans look after their historic Victorian and Edwardian houses.

The first Donkin Street terrace actually seems to have had some work done to it, though the front porch is missing its railing - probably used as firewood. It only serves to show up its decrepit neighbour, though.

The city's main street, Govan Mbeki Avenue, is looking spruce, with the BRT infrastructure almost complete, as seen here. However, large parts of the street were riddled with littered garbage on our trip - thanks to the striking municipal workers.

Weeds, weeds and more grass and weeds. The island down Govan Mbeki has received some young trees, but between them the weeds are flourishing, as they are across the city.