Florence Chisholm Park, otherwise known as Avondale Park, is one recreational spot in Harare that has managed to keep some semblance of its original intention. It has, however, brought some controversy of late after it was turned into a weekend wedding venue.
A worker at the park said they have maintained its attractiveness through sheer hard work and regular availability of water. The park is located in Avondale along Oxford Road just behind the Police Station and close to Avondale Primary School.
“Indeed Avondale Park is among very few parks that has maintained its splendour. Some parks in the capital have suffered due to the scarcity of water, particularly those in the high-density areas. You definitely need water to successfully maintain these parks,” he said.
A trip to some of the parks in the capital by the Harare News revealed that most have been grossly neglected. Overgrown grass, broken benches and vandalised fences characterise most parks today.
This is true at Rowland Square Park in Milton Park, Marlborough Park near Civic Centre, Budiriro Park which is located between Budiriro 1 and 2 as well as the park between Glen Norah A and B.
Avondale Park is the opposite of this with its well-maintained grounds filled with flowers, a clean fishpond and freshly painted benches and fence. “The fish in the pond – silver and gold bream – were donated by residents. I should mention that residents in the area have been helpful as they have not vandalised equipment in the park,” explained the park worker.
Harare News saw only two people making use of the five-acre park in a period spanning close to an hour. This is certainly far from what you can expect in the Harare Gardens where there is litter everywhere and large crowds including many vagrants.
Avondale resident Tremor Demo praised the council for keeping the park in sound shape as they have a place for recreational activities. “It gives us, the residents, a haven for resting and picnics with our loved ones,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by another resident Lynndy Moda who also commended the council for keeping the recreational facility in their suburb well maintained.
“I think the council has done well. There are very few parks, if any at all, that are maintained better than this. I enjoy coming to read here because the environment at home can be noisy,” she said.
It is the use of the park for weddings that has irked some residents as they allege that noise is a problem in an otherwise serene environment.
“The council should stop weddings at the weekend as they are disturbing our peace,” said one woman who stays at Harrow Court, a stone’s throw from the park.
Corporate communications manager Leslie Gwindi at City Council admitted that some parks are in a bad state and cited lack of manpower and the invasion of some parks by people living on the streets as having adversely affected their good standard.
He also defended the use of the park as a wedding venue saying: “Strict noise control is enforced and we only allow hired events to take place on one of the two weekend days. Wedding parties are not allowed to hoot as a noise control measure and functions end at 6pm.”
Is this your experience? Do you have a park near you that you enjoy spending time in? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.