Neighborhood revitalization: a case study of Sparks, eThekwini Municipality.
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The concept of revitalization made its début within the localized context between 1993 to 2003 and is evident in Cato Manor, Warwick Junction and iTrump initiatives in the Durban South African context. The concept and its benefactors encourage others in and around the city to utilize it as a tool promoting self sufficiency and sustainability within developing and developed neighborhoods. Sparks, as an example of a neighborhood within the jurisdiction of the Ethekwini Municipality, has played a part in the process. The difficulty of the area is that it has all the facilities and services of a functioning neighborhood but when one looks closer, a different reality exists. The study proposes to examine the blockages preventing an effective functioning of a cohesive, co-ordinated and harmonious community. The examination of revitalization taking place in Sparks is an attempt to identify factors which explain the partial revitalization observed in the neighbourhood. This study identified role players and established the characteristics of the local residents and their contribution to the revitalization process. Qualitative information was obtained through interviews with key role players including the ward Councilor, Municipality officials, residents and business owners of the area. The finding of this study revealed that Sparks as a node has all the elements to function successfully to make a good neighbourhood. The study found that the residents are not included in the revitalization decision making processes by the municipality and that there was little public participation the revitalization in the neighborhood is occurring sporadically in the form of upgrading roads, renovations on private property, installation of traffic lights and speed breakers. The revitalization in Sparks is problematic and needs to be addressed more systematically in the Municipality and by the residents of the area. The research revealed that public participation needs to be encouraged in Municipal initiated projects. The researcher concluded that revitalization needs guidance from the municipality, and that proper public participation strategies should be put in place for successful implementation.