George Argyropoulos was involved in the founding of the Senderwood, St Andrews and Bedford Park Ratepayer’s Association (SSB-RA) two and a half years ago, and currently serves as Chairperson.
Born in Athens, Greece, Argyropoulos emigrated to South Africa in 1991 and has been a resident of Senderwood since 2010. He is happily married and his four daughters are currently at university.
SSB-RA Committee aims
The committee’s initial mandate was to adopt and maintain Chaucer Park and make it accessible to the community. ‘Due to the pressing needs of the suburb, we had to expand our scope to provide maintenance and improvements to the extent that our budget, manpower and legal framework allow us,’ said Argyropoulos.
What inspired you to become part of the SSB-RA Committee?
It is easy to sit on the sidelines and complain, but it is of no use to anyone. In fact, it creates more problems. I have always chosen to lead by example and ‘put my money where my mouth is’. Actions speak louder than words, and as much as we expect the council to provide the services we are over-paying for, the reality is that if we do not take matters into our own hands, nothing much will happen. On the day of the assembly, I decided to get involved and offer my time and services. After all, the condition of our suburbs affects our daily quality of life, security and value of our properties.
Which community projects/initiatives are you involved in that you are most excited about, and why?
Chaucer Park and maintaining the suburb takes a lot of my and the committee’s time. The excitement comes when I see the residents enjoying the park and see small but visible improvements around our areas.
How has Senderwood and the areas you serve changed over the years?
I am sad to say that I have witnessed our beautiful and well-maintained suburbs deteriorate to an unacceptable level, especially considering the amount of municipal rates and taxes we are forced to pay. The deterioration has particularly accelerated in the last five years.
What would you like to see improved on in the area?
The most pressing problems in Senderwood are the severe ageing of the sewage and water pipes – pipes burst on a weekly basis. The whole network is in desperate need of urgent replacement. In addition to the inconvenience and waste of water, the dangers to public health are serious.
Of course, streetlights, potholes, cleanliness and general maintenance are equally necessary and unfortunately unattended. With such high unemployment, one would think that there are plenty of people willing to provide these services to the council. One wonders where all the money goes and if there is any planning and management taking place.
What is your greatest achievement as part of the SSB-RA Committee?
The adoption and improvement of Chaucer Park and the successful events we have held there.
What goals do you have for the community you serve?
The ultimate goal is to make SSB the most beautiful, well-maintained, and secure suburb. Ideally, we would like to achieve this hand in hand with the council, in a private-public partnership. Failing that, we will have to explore other – and unfortunately – expensive and time-consuming avenues.
What advice do you have for people to get more involved in the community?
An involved community is the cornerstone of democracy. Democracy means ‘Peoples’ State’. In ancient Athens, the citizens met at the Agora (the marketplace) where they discussed the city’s problems and voted on proposed solutions. But it went further than that. Citizens would offer funds and their time to serve the Demos. Do you know that the word ‘idiot’ comes from Greek? Idiotis meant the private citizen who did not get involved in the Demos. It was frowned upon to the extent that the word was adopted by the Romans and eventually found its way into the English language to mean ‘stupid’. Need I say more?
What are your passions?
Being Greek, I have many, such as: providing leadership and helping people and companies to be the best they can become, assisting them to find their purpose, and turning their dreams into goals they can achieve. Another passion is selling. Without sales, there is no economy. Selling for me is helping people solve problems and improve their lives by purchasing the right product or service.
Any hidden treasures in Senderwood?
People should make use of Chaucer Park, located at the corner of Chaucer and Shelley avenues. We adopted the park from the council and with the support from residents we fenced it, re-planted, created a dog run and installed a playground. We maintain it on a weekly basis. It provides a safe environment to enjoy a walk or a run, walk your animals, let your children play and get some exercise.
It borders the Senderwood Shopping centre, where one can enjoy a beverage or a meal at Mimmos and Meze. On weekends, Mimmos serves patrons in the park and SLCAP provides a tactical officer for added security. We have plans to create a BMX track, a wetland area, urban vegetable garden and a jogging and walking track. We have held a few successful events, and we are planning more for next year.
What is your favourite restaurant/place to eat in Senderwood?
One of the benefits our suburb offers is the proximity to great restaurants. My personal favourite is the restaurant at the Giglio Boutique Hotel and we often eat at the FireRoom, Yamitsuki and of course Mimmos and Meze in Senderwood. We also enjoy Er Buco and Da Graziella.
I am a water baby. I love anything one can enjoy above or below the water and sailing, swimming, water-skiing and scuba diving are my favourite pastimes. Of course, travelling is very important in my life. I love visiting foreign lands, meeting people and exploring cultures. I am a news and science addict too.
I would like to ask our residents to assist the committee in any way they can, whether it is financial assistance or in the form of labour and materials. The longest journey is nothing more than a series of small steps.