SFPO Association: June Newsletter
Greetings to all St Francis Property Owners.
Mother Nature: Winter has arrived together with some serious challenges from Mother Nature. We have witnessed high winds and destructive fires in various parts of the Eastern and Southern Cape, and St Francis pulled together to deal with the threat of fires to the town.
- The formation of our Disaster Volunteer Group (DVG) proved very helpful in supporting the firefighting teams operating in various parts of Kouga as well as in Tsitsikamma. Our DVG Command Centre at the St Francis Bay Fire Station was open and manned over this period by a group of dedicated people led by Liezl Clause, Heather White and Geanne Darke. They were supported by many others in manning the centre, collecting and distributing donated food, drink, blankets and clothes to the firefighters and those affected by the fires. Our Rapid Response Teams were placed on alert and kept a watchful eye on the fires, wind direction, and possible threats to St Francis. Our thanks are extended to all those who supported this effort through donations and on the ground support. Our Communications team kept our Facebook and WhatsApp social media channels up to date to keep residents and property owners abreast of developments.
- Neighbourhood Watch mounted additional patrols over the weekend of 10 June, particularly right through Saturday night, to maintain vigilance against any threat of fire in and around St Francis. Many thanks to Barry Wild and his dedicated team.
The fires have been particularly destructive to property in Thornhill and Longkloof, and also claimed part of Woodridge School. The Municipality’s firefighting resources have been stretched to the limit in dealing with these fires, as has been Municipal leadership. They have done an admirable job. The communication from the Municipality has also been very proactive and much appreciated.
We have also experienced some big seas and winter storms that have put pressure on our beach and spit, but we are watching it closely.
SRA: Progress on the SRA application has been slow, but this has been primarily due to the change of Municipal Manager (with the new MM starting in June), and the diversion of Municipal leadership attention to dealing with the catastrophic fires in parts of Kouga over the past couple of weeks. We thank the Mayor, Elza van Lingen, and her leadership team for their efforts in dealing with the catastrophe. Hopefully the situation will return to normal soon.
As communicated in our May Newsletter it is clear that we will not be able to implement the proposed SRA in the 2017/18 financial year (starting on 1 July, 2017), as the approval process had to be completed by May 31, 2017 as part of the Municipality’s Council Budget approval process. The targeted implementation date will be set for 1 July, 2018 should our SRA application be consented to by the majority of property owners and the Kouga Municipality.
We will continue with our infrastructure planning and design projects for the roads, river and beach, using our donated funds to finance this. Given the delay in the SRA we do appeal to the broader Property Owner community, who have not already donated to the Saving St Francis Campaign, to donate funds to help support this effort.
As you are well aware, we have proposed the SRA levy because we do not see any other way to avoid a continuing loss of value of our St Francis property investments. We have probably lost half the real value of these investments over the past 10 years, due to the inability of our municipality and community to step up and address the environmental and infrastructure issues St Francis faces.
We have repeatedly said that we will look for alternative sources of finance to help pay for our infrastructure renewal. This includes donations, street committees funding their own street upgrades (like the Arthur Lane property owners did), and other forms of government funding. The Municipality is talking to us about some of these possible sources, and we will work with the Municipality to apply for this kind of funding from elsewhere in Government. However, these are typically long-term processes.
We have also been asked by a number of property owners why we cannot start collecting money now. We cannot enforce any form of payment without the SRA levy being approved and implemented, but we can invite property owners who want to see us move the infrastructure work forward faster, to pay a monthly equivalent of the proposed levy as a donation over the next 12 months to the SFPO NPC.
- We are hosting a Security strategy session on June 22 with all the role players to better understand how we can upgrade the camera and reaction force security for St Francis.
- We have issued a Request for Proposal for the design of the long-term solution (Phase 2) to fix the river, beach and spit.
- We have awarded a contract to EAS PE to complete the design of the first phase of our Arterial Road upgrade.
Jacky Green: Many of you have met Jacky Green, our Administration Manager, spoken to her on the phone or exchanged emails with her and know her as the voice and face of the SFPO Association. Happily for Jacky, but sadly for us, she has decided to resign from her job at the SFPO and go on an extended overseas trip with her husband Dave to see her family scattered around the world. Jacky has been with the Association for 7 years, and has given all of our members a dedicated, calm and friendly service. Thank you Jacky for your dedicated service to the Association, its members and its committee (several of them over the years). Jacky will be leaving us at the end of June, and we wish her a wonderful trip trotting around the globe.
Lyn Aitken: We are fortunate to have an experienced and able replacement for Jacky in Lyn Aitken. Lyn has been assisting the SFPO in various administrative duties over the past 6 months, and has stood in for Jacky when she has taken leave, so she is well versed in the Administration Manager role. Lyn will start on July 1 and we are very pleased to have her on board.
Finally, the SFPO would love to see all of you, the property owners, visiting your homes in St Francis over the school holidays in July and August. When you visit the village, please pop into the SFPO offices for a chat and an update.