Refurbishment of the Turkish Baths and Long Street pool …

From the CapeTowner, by Monique Duval, 25th October 2012

Although the refurbishment of the Turkish Baths and Long Street Pool has been considered a low priority by the City, an architect has decided that the unique facility deserves more attention. Karinina Ingwersen from Oranjezicht tabled her report on the complex to the ward forum at a meeting held on Tuesday October 16 where she explained that she has re-drawn all the floor plans to give officials a better understanding of what the property consists of and what work needed to be done. “It s a unique facility and we cannot let it deteriorate any further. I drew the report to motivate the refurbishment of the Turkish Baths and Long Street Pool. “I think it is an embarrassment. Long Street is such a vibrant part of Cape Town and so I feel we must do something about the amenity which is already used by many in the community,” she said.

In her report, Ms Ingwersen outlines the issues including the basic maintenance it requires and she has made proposals on the adjustment of the layout to optimise its usage. She explained that the facility consists of six erven which are zoned general commercial and general residential. The pool was built in 1908 and the Turkish Baths were inaugurated by Councillor Sam Goldstein in May 1927. According to a plaque which dates back to 1998, the murals inside the Turkish Baths were painted by Gregg Smith. Ms Ingwersen said the architectural style of the building could be defined as Art Nouveau and Victorian. She said while the interior of the Turkish Baths had a Middle East ambience, as would be appropriate for its function and cultural originality. She said the amenity is situated in a conservation area and is protected by the National Heritage Resources Act.

Ms Ingwersen told the forum the baths and pool were in dire need of an upgrade and general maintenance would not be enough. “I really hope this helps motivate the City to do something, the longer we wait, the more derelict it will become and even more expensive to remedy,” she said. The facility first came under the spotlight nearly two years ago when former ward councillor, Belinda Walker said visitor numbers were dropping. In previous comment given to the CapeTowner, mayoral committee member for community services, Tandeka Gqada said the City was currently tiling the hot room, two steam rooms, and the floor, installing new benches in the sauna and carrying out electrical repairs at the Turkish Baths (“Turkish baths a low priority, says City”, CapeTowner, October 4). In her proposal, Ms Ingwersen said maintenance would form a big part of the overall renovation and so should be done simultaneously.

Her proposal includes ideas to create a new passage that will run from the entrance to the pool. “This will offer more controlled access. At present access for all is either through these change rooms – compromising security and privacy – or through the upper level passage and balcony onto the spectator seating, and therefore are not ideal options,’ she said. Her proposal also includes further changes to the mezzanine level, the change rooms and the general clean-up of the Turkish Baths. Ms Ingwersen estimated that the refurbishment of the facility could cost up to R10 million and questions on what basis it was ranked as a low priority. “Here is a straightforward opportunity waiting to be taken by the council: to turn around the existing overall deteriorating situation into a beneficial and vibrant place of healthy activity, where developed potential opportunities will secure a more viable financial basis.

“It will be a successful project to be proud of, a social upliftment confirmation and a far better financially rewarding enterprise. The proverbial feather in the cap. “Future maintenance will be remarkably reduced to a minimum. “Hopefully this report will serve as convincing incentive and motivation to secure adequate fund allocation for a well-deserving project,” she said. Ward councillor Dave Bryant said while he welcomed the report he didn’t think the City would be able to fund it but that it shouldn’t deter the community from raising funds. “I think it’s great that she has put this plan together but I think at the moment it’s a bit out of the reach for the City. It was very interesting and we will soon set up a meeting to discuss the report with her,” Mr Bryant said.

Copyright Cape Community Newspapers, part of Independent News and Media.

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