Notice from Leisure Isle Residents' Association
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27 January 2020

Content: Report on Festive Season * The new LIRA Committee * Tribute to Keith Hollis
* AGM 2019 * Project to clear Bollard of abandoned water craft * Epic rainfall
* LI Festival update * Super yacht visit * Steenbok Reserve needs you! * Important contacts
Superb Festive Season on LI!

When we included a report on the Festive Season preparations in the October LIRA Newsletter, we were ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the huge efforts that had been made to improve the beachfront facilities would result in a peaceful and enjoyable time for all our residents and visitors.

And now that the holiday season has ended, feedback received from residents and visitors alike confirms that this season on Leisure Island has been the best ever! This overview highlights some of the factors that contributed to this, and points the way to an even better 2020 season.

For many years the Festive Season has been viewed with trepidation by Island residents. Chaotic scenes of overcrowded beaches, late night revelling with loud music, anti-social behaviour and littering have led to frustration and anger. The beachfront was deteriorating, with unkempt picnic areas, broken signage, a collapsing seawall, inadequate bins and toilet facilities, and disorderly parking arrangements.

To address this, LIRA has pursued a strategy, in collaboration with the Municipality, of improving the infrastructure, upgrading the levels of beachfront management, and encouraging compliance with the municipal by-laws. Lessons from the 2018 season were taken into account, and early joint planning sessions held to ensure that everything would be in place for the influx of visitors.

LIRA took the lead in undertaking a number of high impact projects, using both LIRA funds and generous private donations. Volunteers assisted with much of the work, and we were able to get favourable rates from a number of suppliers.
  • Nine new signboards were erected along the beachfront, from the Island entrance to Thornely Park, prominently positioned to encourage visitors to comply with the by-laws.
  • Post-and-rail fencing, manufactured by the Epilepsy Centre workshop, was erected to prevent cars from parking on the beaches, dunes and picnic areas.
  • Two repairs were made to the seawall at Bollard Beach – the collapsed and very unsightly timber wall was rebuilt, and a retaining wall erected to prevent a beautiful milkwood tree from being washed away.
  • The Green Hole public toilet block was extensively upgraded by volunteers, with new rooflights, repairs to the roof and plumbing, a bright new colour scheme, signage, and a paved apron.
These projects had the effect of giving the beachfront a much-needed facelift, and were much appreciated by the Municipality and by local visitors. The fact that the people of Leisure Island were improving facilities at Green Hole did not go unnoticed!

The Parks Dept provided a much-improved service, trimming and mowing, and refurbishing the braai and picnic facilities. This immediately improved the attractiveness of the public areas, parks and verges.

The Traffic Dept played a prominent role in maintaining the flow of traffic in peak periods, adding road signage in places, and managing beachfront parking to minimise inconvenience to residents. Unfortunately, the roadblocks that had been promised on George Rex Drive did not materialise due to capacity constraints.

Law Enforcement officials were out in force, with both increased patrols and more effective policing on the ground. LIRA had requested that the by-laws prohibiting drinking in public be strictly enforced on the Island, but once again the Municipality was unable to implement this. There was, however, a far greater effort put into addressing incidents of anti-social behaviour arising from alcohol consumption.

No serious incidents were reported, and complaints from residents were promptly addressed by both Allsound and Law Enforcement. The lifeguards were once again successful in ensuring the safety of bathers, and their vigilance and assistance meant that no rescues were necessary.

The biggest success of the season was the cleaning and litter service provided by the Solid Waste Dept. Their team made an early start each day, and did not leave until the last beachgoers had left, often working late into the night. They worked among the crowds, handing out pamphlets and litter bags, and encouraging beachgoers to bin their litter. Bins were emptied frequently, much to the disappointment of the crows and ibises! The toilet cleaners kept the toilet block spotlessly clean and serviced at all times, something that was praised by many visitors.

Part of this team - funded by LIRA and some donors - were four young matriculants who made some welcome income working as extra cleaners, every day up until school term started, and they certainly made a big difference.

For Island residents, accustomed to finding the picnic areas strewn with litter and broken bottles, the new cleaning regime was a revelation. This exceptional and dedicated cleaning team have shown that even with the huge numbers of visitors that come to the Island over the season, litter can be managed, and the beaches and picnic areas can be kept attractive and tidy at all times.

Leisure Island is a unique and wonderful place. It is a combination of a peaceful residential neighbourhood, and a popular beachfront resort. Over the Festive Season, these two worlds intermingle, sharing a vibrant holiday atmosphere.

The collaborative approach adopted by LIRA and the Municipality has resulted in a much-improved and better-managed beachfront. Many holidaymakers will have lasting memories of the pleasant times they spent on the beaches with family and friends.

We can be ‘cautiously optimistic’ that next year’s season will be even better. More collaboration, better facilities, better management. Perhaps even Blue Flag status for Leisure Island?
Report by Dave Stromberg

A new LIRA Committee

We have a new LIRA Committee following the resignations at the end of 2019 of several members, namely Keith Hollis (Chairman), James Botha (Treasurer), Paul Kotze (Infrastructure), Ingrid Meter (Membership) and Dave Stromberg (Special Projects).
We thank them all for their hours of work and dedication to LIRA's cause - words really cannot express the devoted efforts and achievements of these five fine people. Both Dave Stromberg and Ingrid Meter have agreed to continue aspects of their LIRA work, as and when required, and we welcome that input, as we do from anyone who wants to volunteer their help.

As much as these stalwart's knowledge and expertise will be missed, we are pleased to report that other members ie Brenda Neall, Kerry Evans, Mary-Anne Beviss-Challinor, Declan Nurse and Myles Ruck offer continuity on the Committee.

We are raring to go, have already held two meetings and will continue active involvement on all the projects in the pipeline, forge equal relationships with the Municipality and continue to do our best for you and Leisure Isle.

We are currently in discussion with two possible candidates, both CAs, to take over the Treasurer position, one that James Botha will fulfill until the end of March.

Meet the Committee: who they are, their history on Leisure Isle, and in their own words.....

From l-r, back row: Dennis Boyd (Infrastructure), Peter Surgey (Environment), Mark Sofianos (Infrastructure), Declan Nurse (Security and Ward 9 Rep), Craig Carter (Interim Deputy Chairman & Special Projects).
Front row: Brenda Neall (Communication), Kerry Evans (Special Projects), Barbara Mills (Membership).
Absent: Mary-Anne Beviss-Challinor (Interim Chairman), and Myles Ruck (Advisory).

Please note: Mary-Anne and Craig have accepted Interim appointments - a situation that will have to be resolved. Mary-Anne manages a business in KZN and is a busy parent and grandmother and is reluctant to take on the BIG mantle that is LIRA Chairman. Craig spends much time on LI but does not live here permanently and so is equally reticent.

Mary-Anne Beviss-Challinor - Chairman

My love of the island began as a young child relishing yearly holidays. Later, as a mother with small kids in tow, multiple trips from KZN to LI culminated in the purchase of my first home in Island Cove in the 1990s. What a perfect sanctuary – safe for kids and escape from the demands of a busy career.

Circumstances changed, time moved on, kids grew up and, after relocating back to the Cape, meeting my soulmate and spending 15 years on our beautiful farm in Elgin (commuting as our careers demanded), the time was right for a permanent move to the Island. We bought our home in 2015 and relocated a year later. Despite having a business in KZN, LI is now our home and second home to our eight children and three grandchildren.

I joined the Committee shortly after the Knysna fires – and, having served on multiple committees, was immediately impressed at the generosity of time members devote to Island matters. I feel honoured to serve with such skilled and committed people.
Like least about LI: Crumbling causeway and seawalls, estuarine pollution and litter.
Like most about LI: Endless interesting people, peace and tranquillity, security, and seeing my grandchildren loving the LI treasures – beaches, Steenbok, boat trips and fishing with Grandpa – priceless!
Craig Carter - Deputy Chair and Projects
I first visited Leisure Isle in 1981 and have very happy memories of staying on Bollard Beach and learning to windsurf (downwind only). Almost 30 years later we returned for a family holiday and fell in love with the island again. Three months later we bought on Bollard Bay.
I have now retired after a career in technology and finance in big corporates and small businesses and am spending more and more time in Knysna (Heidi is still working but starting to slow down). I am new to the LIRA Committee and joined because of the important work I have seen the team doing in keeping Leisure Isle a world-class destination and in contributing to Knysna as a whole.
Like least about LI: Cold winters.
Love best about LI: Access to the water for kayaking and boating on the lagoon and river, safe beach for our grandchildren, dramatic tidal shifts and village atmosphere.

Declan Nurse – Security & Ward 9 Rep

Leisure Isle is in my blood, having grown up here from the age of two and ultimately purchasing a family in 2015 in Horne Drive. As a new-old resident, I felt it important to become more involved in security matters and was happy to join the Committee when asked.

From a professional perspective as MD of Allsound Security, service delivery is vitally important. If anything, being a homeowner, member of LIRA and on the Committee makes me even more focused in ensuring that LI security is of the quality that I would expect for my family and others on the Island.

Using my work experience and know-how, I have been able to provide valuable input on security advancements for the Island. One such passion has been the advancement of smart technology in the form of CCTV networking. This has yielded several successes, not only on LI but elsewhere in Knysna.

I strongly believe that families buy into a lifestyle when moving to Leisure Island and that to achieve this, crime needs to be kept at bay. I remain committed to achieving this lifestyle for all Leisure Isle residents.

Kerry Evans - Special Projects
After a couple of decades of senior management in international IT sales and consulting companies, we decided to sell in Sandton and move to Knysna. Ant and I had always intended to retire to Leisure Isle but made the move earlier than initially planned. We have been here for five years and have not regretted it for one minute!
After joining the LIRA committee in Dec 2018, I have been involved in projects such as the new road signs, municipal signs, bins, fibre etc. I dislike unnecessary signage all over the Island and as a consequence I’m known as the ‘sign police’! Being an outcomes-based person, I enjoy being involved with constructive work that beautifies our Island. 
I have found the 2020 Committee to be collaborative, driven and highly skilled - I look forward to working with the members to complete current projects and to starting new ones. 

Brenda Neall - Communications
I have lived here for seven years, moving from Cape Town, not to Knysna, but to Leisure Isle that captured my heart from the very first visit some years prior. Too impatient to wait for retirement years, we moved here thanks to having an internet publishing business that can be managed from anywhere.
I have served on the LIRA Comm since arriving, co-opted by Roger Voysey to use my experience as a journalist and editor in the communications portfolio. I serve as it's constructive and rewarding to 'be the change you want to see', it's great to be part of a committed and skilled team, to be informed and to meet fascinating and friendly people.
Like least about LI: Dog poo, crumbling seawall, the jiggidy drive to and fro on George Rex.
Love best about LI: Sleeping peacefully at night, thanks to LIRA, the swimming, natural beauty, spike water, 20 min walks that take at least one hour due to chatty Islander encounters.

Dennis Boyd - Infrastructure

My parents bought a holiday home on the Heads almost 50 years ago. Since then Knysna has been my family’s regular holiday home.

For the past 12 years, my wife Jenni and I have owned our own property on Leisure Isle, initially as a holiday home and for the past four years as our permanent home.
I qualified as an architect at UKZN and practiced in Durban until 2015, specialising in the design and implementation of residential architecture and, specifically, the formulation and management of the architectural language and controls of residential estates such as Zimbali on the KZN north coast, before moving to Knysna.
I accepted nomination to the LIRA Committee to give back my expertise and experience to Leisure Isle residents.
Like least about LI: Disregard for the built environment.
Love best about LI: Natural beauty, surrounded by water, walking and the people.

Peter Surgey - Environment

I have been a regular visitor to LI since 1955, and can share a million wonderful stories of LI holidays since boyhood. I have had wide-ranging experience in business and charitable organisations as well as direct involvement with developments in Knysna such as Thesen Island and the Knysna Basin Project.

Knysna and LI is a unique environment and I would like to contribute to maintaining and sustaining all that is good, and improving aspects where helpful and necessary. LI is a most special place for me and I want to help preserve and enhance its awesome and unique character.
Like least about LI: Inconsiderate dog owners not picking up poo, the ageing road infrastructure.
Like most about LI: The ease of being able to access a multitude of activities on our doorstep in a peaceful and safe environment. 

Barbara Mills - Membership
I first came to Knysna in 1980 when my late father-in-law, Mike Mills, bought a house on Leisure Isle. From then we spent every holiday we could here and in the early 2000s we bought a home. In 2014, I moved here permanently after losing my husband and my partner, Iain and I, have lived here since then, running a small guesthouse, The Islander. 
I was nominated onto the Committee last year and I am honoured be part of a skilled and diverse team who do so much for Leisure Isle and its residents. I do know quite a few people on the island from my years here and so my portfolio will be new membership and membership maintenance, vital for LIRA’s funding, for our 24/7 security and the many projects LIRA undertakes. 
Like least about LI: The litter and shortage of bins with lids, crumbling sea wall, disrepair of the causeway.
Like best about LI: Amazing people, the safety and beauty, beautiful walks, no high walls and electric fences.

Mark Sofianos - Infrastructure
Having first visited the sleepy town of Knysna in the early 80s, I was always in awe of the Garden Route's unspoilt beauty and the genuine friendliness of people

After starting my first construction company straight after school, studying while working, then several years of project management in the UK and back to working in Gauteng, moving to Knysna was an easy choice and in 2001 Leisure Island became home to our young family. 

With a passion for construction and  attention to detail as owner of Bluewaters Construction, we have built many homes in and around Knysna over the years, but LI has always been my Special Place where we have lived, worked and built friendships. Our children have had the privilege of growing up here, enjoying the freedom, security and beauty that cannot be found in too many other places.

For several years I have been asked to join the Committee but work and family commitments denied this but I have assisted with various projects. As is now clear, the ongoing need to maintain, preserve and nurture our beautiful island is becoming more demanding, so  when asked again to help, I decided to make the commitment.

With 30 years of construction experience and a good understanding of the infrastructure and challenges facing KM, l I believe I can help to ensure the Island remains the special place it has always been to so many!

Myles Ruck - Advisory

The Ruck family fell in love with Leisure Isle in 1999, and from 2001 we have since spent every Christmas, and many weeks between, on the island, finally deciding we had to buy and build here. We moved into our own home on my 50th birthday in June 2005 - best thing we ever did.

We all love our holidays on the island – cycling, fishing, skiing, boating, partying and being with friends, old and new, who holiday or live here. Last year my son got married on the island. He and his wife wouldn’t hear of getting married anywhere else – awesome!

I am (mostly) an absentee but involved member of the LIRA committee. I felt that instead of just criticising, the best way of understanding how much the Committee does, and has long done for the island, was to rather join and be a voice from within, primarily for the non-permanent residents (albeit not always an assenting one).

I take my hat off to the LIRA Committee members past and present – they do an extraordinary and, oft times, thankless job for the residents of LI. I hope we can continue to build on these efforts.

Like most about LI: I love the complete feeling of happiness that overwhelms me as I open the door to our house on Leisure.  
Like least about LI: Driving over the causeway after a holiday wondering why it had to end so quickly!

Tribute to Keith Hollis - outgoing LIRA chairman

Keith has played an enormously important role as chairman of the LIRA committee for some 12 years.

His self-confidence, acumen, strength of character and courage provided a sound foundation for the Committee through some very turbulent times.

LIRA members are fiercely independently-minded, and many Island issues generate heated emotions. Keith  confronted these issues, encouraged debate, listened and engaged peoples' concerns, and always allowed the Committee to reach a position by vote or consensus. And once a decision was taken, he ensured that it was implemented, and supported the Committee at all times in the process.

His handling of meetings and issues was remarkable, always politely and in a procedurally-correct fashion, with frequent references to the LIRA constitution and objectives.

And as a resident who clearly loves the Island, he has kept a close eye on things during his early morning Island walks, always proactive in 'Ensuring that the environmental heritage is nurtured and protected'.

Keith assembled and led the LIRA Committee team for many years. He leaves with the Island in excellent shape, and with LIRA an exemplary residents association. The high percentage of members is indicative of the success of his leadership. 

Thank you, Keith! And may you have much peace and happiness in your real retirement, with your lovely new wife, Rose, at your side!
Keith is pictured above at the 2019 AGM, with Ingrid Meter, outgoing Comm member for membership.

AGM 2019: The AGM on 19 December 2019 drew a great turnout of over 100 residents. Few would not have been impressed with Dave Stromberg's detailed presentation outlining and summarising LIRA's work over the year, and which has all been detailed in past newsletters and notices.

You can view the
details of this presentation here, while the AGM minutes will be posted to the LIRA website ( when they are signed off at our next Committee meeting.
Clearing Bollard of abandoned and derelict craft
Bollard beach and dunes have slowly become something of a dumping ground for Hobie Cats and kayaks, intentionally or not.

While most will agree, non-motorised craft add some seaside ambiance to Bollard, especially if they are in use, but equally it's not environmentally nor aesthetically acceptable for sensitive dunes to be a permanent parking, storage or dumping spot. The LI Boat Club has plentiful and affordable storage facilities, or they should be placed in private property.

We urge residents that if they have craft on Bollard that are not in regular use, and many more are not included in these photographs, that they must be removed, please.

If any of these in the photos below are yours, or you know who they belong to, please let Craig Carter know. They have clearly not been sailed or used in a long time, and some were trashed in high seas and winds last year.

He'd also welcome any ideas on how best to deal with or refurbish those that are abandoned. If no solutions are forthcoming by end February, LIRA will make its own plans on removing these vessels.

Email Craig here, or call him on 082 653 0402.

Other news...

 Date to diarise: Dennis Boyd is organising another Bollard Beach rubble clean up on Saturday, Feb 8, at 8.00am. Low Spring tide. All helping hands welcome. 

Rampant rain! After a lengthy dry spell and some suffocating heat and humidity, Friday 17 January gave rise to a week of epic downpours, thanks to a cut-off low pressure system south of SA that deposited over 170mm on Leisure Isle - greatly welcomed by most locals, less so by the many Swallow visitors who come here to escape just such weather!

According to a Weather SA forecaster, the deluge constituted the highest daily average over a five-day period for the month of January in the past 20 years. Steenbok Reserve's records put the 10-year average rainfall on LI for January at around 45mm. Read all about it in this KPH report

Leisure Isle Festival 2020: There has been some misguided grapevine talk that this event will not be taking place this year. This is definitely NOT the case, with Festival committee members, Chris Kay and Peter Smith, assuring that everything is on track for the 2020 Festival, likely to be held again in early November. Exact dates will be confirmed anon.

Additional security feature: We have accepted Allsound's recommendation to add License Plate Recognition software at LI entrance cameras, for a nominal monthly fee. This technology immediately alerts Allsound and SAPS if any 'red-flagged' suspect vehicles access the island.

Historic visit by a super yacht! Knysna came out in numbers to welcome and say good-bye to M/Y Katherine, a 61m super-yacht mostly based in the Med, whose American owners decided it was time to come and see the home town of many of its crew and its current captain.

At 1,049 tons, the yacht is believed to be the biggest to ever visit Knysna and the largest vessel since HMS Actaeon, a frigate, started annual visits here in 1948. It was guided safely in and, two weeks later, out by the NSRI on high spring tides, escorted by a flotilla of leisure craft and watched by hundreds of people at view points. Moving and exciting stuff, indeed!

Read all about it in this KPH report and you can learn more about on its Facebook page here....

Steenbok Reserve needs you!
Support this amazing endeavour! Steenbok Nature Reserve is an integral and precious asset for Leisure Isle and the whole of Knysna - read more about the great work done by its Mancomm and Friends on its WONDERFUL website and Facebook page. And please consider joining the Friends - only R450pa!
KM AppReport potholes, broken water mains etc here!
The Knynsa Municipality App (left) is now the go-to place to report these sorts of infrastructure issues - with top KM officials advising us so. You can download the app from iTunes or Google Playstore.

Report illegal baiting here!

The all-hours SANParks Rangers' Estuary Duty number is
082 269-5007
. Use this to report illegal activities.

The SANParks Knysna general enquiries number is
044 382-2095.
* Provides 24/7 proactive security
* Sponsors Steenbok Nature Reserve
* Champions peak season law enforcement
* Liaison/lobbying Knysna Municipality
* Liaison Nature Conservation/SANParks
* Beautification of LI
* Employment of gardeners
* Hosts Leisure Isle Festival
* Maintains property values and unequalled lifestyle
* Professional and dedicated volunteer committee serving your interests

LIRA would like as many Islanders as possible to receive these newsletters.

If you have family members, tenants or friends who would be interested in getting our news, we'd like to add them to our mailing database. Please send email details to Brenda Neall.
We welcome your comments and feedback on this newsletter. And your input, too! Your news, ideas, stories, happenings are welcome.

Brenda Neall, website & newsletter

To contact LIRA interim chairman, Mary-Anne Beviss-Challinor: 
Email her here, or call 082 651 3767.

LIRA website:
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