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LIRA Newsletter

March 2015
News from Leisure Isle Residents' Association
What LIRA does for home owners: * Provides island security, our 'Bobby on the beat' * 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

Dear Leisure Islander,

Welcome to this March newsletter ....

New cameras at Leisure Isle entrance

ONE of the many joys of living on Leisure Isle is permission to sleep peacefully – unlike most fellow citizens whose security fears are likely a constant concern. Your contribution to LIRA helps make this possible through funding our 24/7 entrance and roving security. Now, we're happy to report that some of your funds were recently well spent in upgrading the security cameras at the causeway entrance.

The analogue cameras served our security needs for a number of years, but technology has moved along apace, and so have we.

Selected cameras have been replaced with sophisticated digital cameras and equipment. This has considerably improved image quality of the traffic, resulting in easily identifiable vehicle registration numbers. The camera casings are the same, it's what's inside that has been substantially upgraded.

The system is scaleable and can connect up to 36 devices. A WiFi link has also been installed between the system in the guard hut and the Allsound control room. This enables Allsound to view events in real time and thus enabling pro-active CCTV.

The total cost for the new system was approximately R40 000, budgeted for in the 2014 financial year.

Our long-term objective is to install cameras at strategic points around the Island, including thermal imaging cameras for use at night in poorly lit areas of potential entry. Areas identified as possible weak points will be the initial focus. This project is in line with our policy of 'staying ahead'of crime by making the Island the 'least best option to commit crime'.

However, these plans are costly, likely around R250K, and will be implemented as and when funds become available. SEE MORE BELOW!

Our sincere thanks to LIRA committee member who looks after our security matters, Johan de Bruyn, who spent many hours investigating, scoping and implementing this important project.
A 'fun-raising' dinner for additional LIRA cameras - diarise 22 April! Places limited!
AS mentioned in the article above, one of LIRA's aims is to extend our security surveillance by placing sophisticated new cameras at selected spots. 
But such measures come at some cost, and are unlikely ever to be affordable within current budget constraints. Thus, we have set up a 'fun-raising' sub-committee to help tackle this and other projects that may arise - and the team involved is full of ideas of how to boost LIRA's coffers to the benefit of all.
Here are details of their first initiative, which will also bring some new and cheery community spirit to LI!
A 'Signature' Evening of live music, wine, food and friends…

When: Wednesday 22 April 2015, 6.30pm for 7.00pm

Where: Leisure Isle Bowling Club, with music by 'Signature' duo, the entertaining and talented, Baden Hall and Roy Taylor

Cost: R150 pp, dinner with cash bar

Put a table of eight friends together, or we'll put individuals together.

Get your tickets from Sotheby’s Leisure Isle, or call Jenny Shields for more info on: 083 751-5671.
So far we have 7 tables taken and we need to fill 13!
Book your table now! 
News from Steenbok Park

Projects in the reserve
You will notice an upgrading of the Steenbok entrance garden (not pictured here) is underway. Roger Voysey and his dedicated team have expanded the area with a new Bird Garden that will include trees and plants that attract birds and butterflies, and will also install a bird bath, feeding tables, information signage and a bench.

The Steenbok Planning Committee is also keen to establish an indigenous 'succulent' area as an extension to the aloe section of the Indigenous garden. This is a specialised area that requires a dedicated volunteer to oversee its development. Labour and funding will be provided by the Steenbok, but they are looking for a dedicated person with the knowledge, or who is keen to learn along the way, to lead the way.
Another project that will soon be evident is the replacement of most of the directional signage in the reserve. The Salt Marsh Restoration Project, involving placement of more pipes through the sea wall, is still on hold pending public comment and various environmental approvals.
New gardening structure
Following stricter enforcement of immigration regulations, and a warning from the police and Home Affairs, Roger Voysey reports that Steenbok management committee was left with no alternative than to 'retrench' their long-standing Malawian gardeners, Johny and Brave, who between them gave the reserve ten years of faithful service.
   "We salute them for their valuable contribution to the development of the park. A new approach to the maintenance and tackling of new projects has now been successfully implemented," he says. "We no longer employ our own labour but are instead using the services of a garden service company, the Municipality is undertaking all grass cutting and some members of Friends of Steenbok are assuming responsibility for certain tasks."
Above: Two valued long-time volunteer park workers: Gillian Wolf and Lindsay Durham.  

Spotted eagle owl pair
We continue to receive reports of sightings of the owls, west of the tennis courts and in the trees outside the Bowling Club. (Pic courtesy Michael Evans)
The Dog Poo Problem
Although significant progress has been made in recent years in persuading dog-walkers to pick up their dogs’ faeces, and despite the adding of additional plastic bag dispensers and litter bins and special campaigns, there are still a significant number of selfish dog-walkers who ignore the pleas to conform with accepted standards and simple decency.
   C'mon people, keep an eye on your hounds and pick up after them, please!
Steenbok Park also has a sleek new website! See more at

Custodian of Hippo Pool
HIPPO Pool, situated at the end of De Smidt Drive, is a popular swimming spot for many LI residents and visitors alike.
It's a favourite of Leisure Gardens Village resident, Neville Schultz, who has graciously taken it upon himself be the unofficial caretaker of the steps.
And he is, indeed, well qualified to do so - having been in the building profession for many years before retirement and moving to LI with his wife, Elaine, four years ago. Neville recently undertook a number of much-needed repairs to the pool's steps; cementing in cracks in the stairwell to keep the walls intact and looking good, and repairing the hand rail, a useful help for many of the elderly folk who wallow there.
With the assistance of his LG Village friend, Charles Weir, and the village gardener, also Charles, the rail's rotting support pole has been replaced, the railing securely reaffixed and both repainted. Thank you, gentlemen, your unsung civic efforts are much appreciated!

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

New municipal manager for Knynsa
KNYSNA Council has just appointed Grant Easton as the new Municipal Manager, with immediate effect. He had been acting in this capacity for a few months since the resignation late last year by Lauren Waring.
    Addressing Council, the Executive Mayor, Cllr Georlene Wolmarans stated that it had not been an easy task to find someone with the right skills, capacity and knowledge to lead the municipal administration. "Someone of Mr Easton's stature does not come along everyday. Of course, it is especially pleasing that he is from our town and has been a director within the municipality for over ten years. This means he can hit the ground running!"
    Easton has an extensive and lengthy history in local government, in both the City of Johannesburg and the City of Cape Town, prior to his Knysna tenure.
    Says LIRA chairman, Keith Hollis: "We have extended, on behalf of the committee of LIRA, our congratulations and delight at Grant Easton's appointment as Municipal Manager.
   "He has extensive experience over many years, especially in municipalities much larger than Knysna! The Knysna Municipality could not be in better hands.
   "We wish him every success in the challenges that lie ahead, and he is assured of LIRA's full co-operation."

Beware the blaasops!
IT has been drawn to our attention that dead puffers, 'blaasops', or tobies, on being caught off the sea wall, are often tossed away by anglers into the grass.
   They are small fish with spiky scales that when threatened inflate themselves to a remarkable degree. These bait-robbing fish are the bane of an angler’s life, being caught unintentionally and spoiling their chances of catching a 'respectable' fish. What is often not realised is that they have extremely toxic skin which, if eaten, can prove fatal to humans and animals.
   Steenbok Park's Roger Voysey reports he has been advised that more than one dog, out for a walk on the sea wall, has picked up a blaasop and died as a result.
   According to Wikipedia, blaasops belong to the Tetraodontidae family, which are variously called pufferfish, puffers, balloonfish, blowfish, bubblefish, toadfish, toadies etc. The scientific name refers to the four large teeth, fused into an upper and lower plate, which are used for crushing the shells of crustaceans and mollusks, their natural prey.
   Pufferfish are generally believed to be the second-most poisonous vertebrates in the world, after the golden poison frog. Certain internal organs, such as liver, and sometimes the skin, contain tetrodotoxin and are highly toxic to most animals when eaten; nevertheless, the meat of some species is considered a delicacy in Japan (fugu), Korea (bok or bogeo), and China (hétún) when prepared by specially trained chefs who know which part is safe to eat and in what quantity.

The low down on sea lettuce
A casual observer, in recent months, could be forgiven for thinking that there is a nasty bedecking of dessicated toilet paper in many parts of the the estuary.
    Fortunately, this is not the case, as LI's resident marine biology expert, Prof Brian Allanson of the Knysna Basin Project, explains: "This is sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca), a form of green algae (often seen free floating) and can be consumed by herbivorous fish, sea animals, slugs and others. It is bright green in colour but can be white or black when dry."
    Although more studies are underway, Prof Allanson says the recent blooms are likely the result of dead and decaying algae reducing dissolved oxygen in the ocean water column which, in turn, leads to changes in the sediments from light grey (well oxygenated) to dark grey and eventually black and foul smelling (hydrogen sulphide).
   "Under such conditions, ammonia is also released from the now anaerobic sediments. Ammonia is a preferred nitrogen food for the green alga and the plant can grow rapidly forming blooms," he says. 
   He also suspects the increase in nitrogen salts and phosphates in the water, which led to last summer’s red tide, have contributed to this year’s visible sea lettuce.
   "December’s strong easterly winds brought large quantities of nitrogen and phosphate from deeper coastal sea that mixed with warm water of the lower estuary to bring about the luxuriant growth of alga."
   Why does it look like toilet paper? "The surfacing of sea lettuce to its current level is a natural phenomenon and is not the effect of effluent water from the Water Treatment Works," Prof Allanson stresses. "However, the Works does release nitrogen and phosphate salts into the Ashmead Channel, so that it would be expected that in the quiet water of upper Ashmead the growth of sea lettuce is optimal.
   "In fact as the tide rises, dead or dying fragments of these sheets are lifted and float to the surface from where they are transported onto the saltmarsh under the stress of winds. With ebb tide, the fragments are caught on the tops of the saltmarsh where they dry out and create the appearance of 'loo paper'."
   Johan de Klerk, area manager of the Knysna section of the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) has commented: "The analysis Prof Allanson has shared with SANParks will assist the decision whether to remove it or not. It is a natural process but where there is a bloom of sea lettuce, it can prevent sunlight from reaching vegetation such as eelgrass. When it dies, bacteria feeding on it can use up vast amounts of oxygen but the upside is that the dry and living alga supports large numbers of small of invertebrates which are themselves food for higher predators, eg fish and birds."
Source: Prof Allanson; Knysna & Plett Herald
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