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LIRA Newsletter

July 2014
News from Leisure Isle Residents' Association
Why LIRA is important: * Holistic island security, our 'Bobby on the beat' * Steenbok Nature Reserve * Peak season law enforcement * Liaison/lobbying Knysna Municipality * Liaison Nature Conservation/SANParks * Beautification of LI * Employment of two full-time gardeners * Leisure Isle Festival * Maintaining property values and unequalled lifestyle * Professional and dedicated volunteer committee serving your interests

Dear Leisure Islander,

Welcome to our second newsletter of 2014....
Flooding of Steenbok Park
LATE on the afternoon of Monday, June 16, visitors to Steenbok Park were treated to a rare occurrence of a particularly high tide flowing over the seawall near the inlet/outlet pipes and flooding into the park.
   This phenomenon happens occasionally as a result of a high spring tide that's accompanied by high seas, strong westerly winds and low atmospheric pressure. The highest recorded flooding occurred 31 August 2008 while the last flooding was in July 2009.
   This high tide level is estimated to be about 300mm below the 2008 record high.
   As the sun rose on the Tuesday morning visitors were greeted with the amazing sight of a lake, covering part of the boardwalk, and even stretching onto sections of the brick pathway with hundreds of water birds enjoying the rich feeding waters. The main flood level abated over the next few days but evidence of the flood was still visible for another week, and some of the grass has been yellowing from its salty dousing.
   Steenbok Park records show that previous floodings occurred in March 2008 and then in 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1996 and prior to that no recorded flooding for 10 years until the early eighties when flooding occurred five times.  
   You can view a pretty spectacular short video of the flood by clicking on this link, captured by Martin Hatchuel.
The troublesome sea wall
One of LIRA's key concerns for a long while now has been the state of the southern and western sea walls that are, in the opinion of several expert consulting engineers, in dangerously bad shape, posing a threat to safety, road integrity and residential values, never mind the overall degradation of one of Knynsa's top leisure/tourist/residential treasures.
   LIRA continues to lobby Knysna Municipality to address this issue, and after the recent June high tides and floods where the wall took a severe beating, asked KM to address this again with more urgency.    
   Post the flooding, KM officials had another site inspection with LIRA committee members, and have agreed that the situation is parlous and assure us that they are giving attention to possible solutions and funding options. In an immediate response, new cordon fencing has been put in place in some particularly bad areas on Cearn Drive to stop cars parking on the wall.
   As always, funding and allocation of KM's limited infrastructure budget is the key problem in resolving this crisis-in-the-making, never mind the layers of red tape as to whom is actually and ultimately responsible for sea walls; the municipality, SANParks, the province or national government?
   It is LIRA's belief that the crumbling/collapsing stretches of sea wall should be entirely overhauled and repaired soonest - an investment that will be far less than the alternative ie nature forcing KM's hand and budget should there be a catastrophic collapse.
   LIRA continues to lobby, scope and debate possible solutions and funding schemes with KM - and will not let up in this regard. We're particularly grateful for the informed and tireless efforts of committee member, Paul Kotze, in this regard. We'll keep you posted on future developments.
Leisure Isle Festival - November 1-2, 2014
PLANS are already well advanced for the 2014 Leisure Isle Festival. It will be bigger and better than ever before, and has a new logo and venue! Stalwart convener, Roger Voysey, sent LIRA this update:
THE twelfth Leisure isle Festival will be held over the weekend of November 1-2 , with the same five local beneficiaries as before. Last year
R152 000 was raised for Hospice, ePap Children Feeding Scheme, Knysna Animal Welfare, Loerihof Old Age Home and Steenbok Nature Reserve.
   As in the past the beneficiaries will actively participate in running the tea garden, book sale, bar, walks and plant sale. In addition we will have over 100 exhibitors representing local artists, crafters, home and local businesses that will rent sites and contribute 10% of their takings to a pool for distribution to the nominated beneficiaries.
   Besides the financial support given, the Festival is well known for the tremendous community spirit that it generates. This year’s Festival includes a number of exciting changes:
• The venue is being moved to Kingsway Park, next to Sotheby’s. This overcomes the north/south division of the past, and the main road passing through the middle. The layout plan is nearing completion and the Entrance Gardens will now become the main parking area.
• Sotheby’s continues as Founder Sponsor while the co-sponsorship of Knysna Tourism will give a significant boost to publicity. ALLSound Security will provide a security sponsorship with the Festival moving away from the guard hut area.
• The focus on local products and crafts will continue, with an added emphasis on creating a 'quality shopping' experience. All tastes will be catered for while retaining the congenial vibe of the event.
• Greater attention will be given to exhibitor selection to ensure that there is a good balance of products and services available and that a high standard is achieved. This means, too, that the number of sites will be reduced.
• Greater attention will be given to creating an amazing ambience with lots of colour and attractive décor.

 LI property update
SOTHEBY'S latest property report notes that the LI market has continued to be very active, with homes that have been, in some instances, on the market for over  five years, finally selling, and with well-priced new listings selling in weeks.
   'It's been a long time since I've felt upbeat about property on the island as a good investment option,' says Sotheby's Sheena Maré.
   'The recent activity has been heartening. The truth of the matter is that our lifestyle is a secret from all but those of us who live here! People who visit the island get a hint of our indulgence, but one has to live here year round to truly appreciate this treasured environment. With a strong LIRA Committee looking after our interests, a really friendly community and the most special place in the world to live - our properites can only appreciate in leaps and bounds!'

 We welcome your comments and feedback on this newsletter. And your input, too! Your news, ideas, stories, happenings are welcome.


The real value in supporting LIRA

"One of the reasons I moved to Leisure Isle was to escape the pre-occupation with crime as I found it had an insidious effect on my state of mind. I aim to avoid going there again."
LI resident, LIRA member
Most of LIRA's budget goes to island security and preserving our amazing environment and lifestyle. A pity that only 62% of residents appreciate this enough to contribute! 
Grateful thanks to those who do - and we urgently need more non-payers to help us balance the LIRA budget.

Arrival of SAS Umhloti!

OFFICER Commanding SAS Umhlothi, Cdr Brian Short, entered the infamous Knysna Heads for his first time on Wednesday July 9, 2014, led in by boats of the NSRI, and welcomed by a happy flotilla of leisure craft.
   This much-anticipated highlight of the Oyster Festival attracted a large audience at the lookout point on the east Head, as well as on the water. The last time a naval vessel entered successfully was back in 2011.
   SAS Umhlothi is a mine counter measure vessel, one of four in the SA Navy fleet. German-built, it was originally a research vessel for the Dept of Transport and commissioned into the navy in 1981.
   After making a grand entrance, the navy enjoyed a PR triumph at the Oyster Fesitval, with the band enchanting the crowds in a street march and concert in the Waterfront, while queues of children and parents seen waiting to tour the ship at its Thesen Island mooring.

Sheena's back!
LAST newsletter in March, we reported that Sotheby's and LI doyenne, Sheena Maré, was resigning from the LIRA committee to take a sabattical and spend more time on the family farm in the Karoo.
   Luckily for us, Sheena decided life was far too quiet in the country, and within a few weeks was back on LI and on the LIRA committee. 
   LIRA is delighted - Sheena is a tireless worker, an LI stalwart and it's a huge asset for us to have such a well-connected person on the committee, with access to her vast knowledge on the property market, the people who buy and sell on the island, and all that does, and might, affect the value of your home.

Estuary water quality
WATER samples are taken monthly at 13 points throughout the estuary and the subsequent results published on the Knysna Municipality website at
   According to national Dept of Water Affairs guidelines, target water quality for recreational use may not exceed 400 E.coli/100ml. All these LI-related sites, tested on July 1, were again well within guidelines:
  • Green Hole Culvert 60/100ml
  • Green Hole 0/100ml
  • The Heads 30/100ml
  • Bollard Bay 0/100ml  

Scheduled flights to and from Plettenberg Bay

HAVE you heard that Cemair, a fully-licensed domestic airline, has signed an operating agreement with Bitou Municipality and has started scheduled flights from Plett to O R Tambo and Cape Town?
   There are flights every day of the week, except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cemair will accept pets on its flights, too.
   See more here:

Spread the LIRA news!
LIRA wants 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.