(Please note: Currently there are no vacancies at Mollergren Park and a long waiting list.)
The Rotary Club of Hermanus for many years realised the need for a “home for senior citizens” in Hermanus. There was no such facility up to 1969. During that year, a member of the Rotary Club, Rtn Dave Clark, told the club that Mr A B Mollergren owned a piece of land on the seafront opposite the entrance to the Golf Club. Except for an old house on it, the land was largely undeveloped.
A deputation of Rotarians made an appointment to interview Mr Albert Mollergren with a view to buy the land from him. The deputation consisted of Dave Clark, Cyril Gillespie and Charlie Sim. Mr Mollergren told the deputation that he always thought that he would like accommodation for the elderly to be erected on the site. He further said that he was prepared to donate the land to the Rotary Club for the purpose of establishing houses for senior citizens, provided that he would be exempted from donations tax. This was achieved and Dennis Cooke drafted the Memorandum and Articles of Association and registered a Section 21 Company who would own and administer Mollergren Park. The company applied for rezoning of the site, erven 1251 and 1252, from single dwelling purposes to institutional purposes. This was approved in terms of the Town Planning Scheme.
At the outset it was the intention to provide adequate accommodation for senior citizens who found it difficult to exist on their pension or other incomes and whose properties became too difficult or expensive to maintain. It was the intention that the rentals should be sufficient to cover the running expenses of Mollergen Park.
Mr Mollergren also donated R25,000 which financed the building of the first four houses (called chalets in those days) situated on the eastern boundary of the property. These homes consisted of one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, pantry, dining/living room and a porch at the front door entrance, a total roofed area of approx 77 square meters.
The first tenants were judged on age, income and residency in Hermanus. The rental was R40-00 per month at the beginning. This was enough to finance water and maintenance cost of the grounds. The tenants were responsible for their own electricity and telephone bills. The company applied to the Municipality to be exempt from rates in terms of the Municipal Ordinance. This was not possible but the Municipal Council agreed to give the Company an annual grant-in-aid equal to the amount of the rates which was levied.
Thus, due to the magnificent donation received from Mr Mollergren, the first tenants were only responsible for a nominal fixed rental apart from their own telephone and electricity bills. The first tenants were Mr and Mrs Willy de Smidt (retired City Electrical Engineer of Cape Town), Mr and Mrs George Downes (a retired Agriculturalist and Rotarian), Mr and Mrs Sunshine and another.
Mrs Helen Mollergren also donated R25,000 to the Company which financed the second block of four houses on the western boundary of the property.
A year or two later, the Company raised a bond of R40,000 to build the C W Gillespie block along the Main Road boundary. This block consisted of four bed/sitter flats (32 sq meters) and four one-bed roomed flats (46 sq meters).
At the initial stages, the Rotary Club considered applying for a loan from the Department of Social Welfare and Pensions ( loans for the purpose of Old Age Homes could be taken at a rate of interest of ,5% pa). The Rotary Club decided against it because of the various conditions and restrictions which would be applicable. Mollergren Park was also not a sub-economic scheme and the Club considered that the facility of Government funds should rather be available to schemes catering for lower income groups.
In later years, a further ten double units were considered under a number of different schemes where the home was either purchased or erected by the tenant who then becomes the owner with certain rights. These must be looked at individually as they differ.
The following principles applied initially:
1. Tenants would have security of tenure.
2. Initially, the rents were fixed. In later years that became impossible but the rents would be kept as low as possible.
3. A surviving spouse could stay on in a double chalet until single accommodation became available. Thereafter the surviving spouse should vacate the home or leave Mollergren Park. (This was drawn when Mollergren Park was the only place in Hermanus for senior citizens to live. Subsequently, others were erected, viz. Huis Lettie Theron, Fynbos Park and to a certain extent Berg-en-See, Kidbrooke Place and Dove Cote.) There are, therefore, a number of options open to the elderly and the removal of a surviving spouse from a double unit to a single unit must only be done voluntarily and with great circumspection.
4. The rental of the units must finance the running expenses, including the outside maintenance of the buildings. (It must be remembered that the administrative overheads are a couple of hundred rand a month. The Company who owns and runs Mollergren Park is a section 21 company and does not declare dividends, nor is the Chairman of the Board of Directors paid any fees.)
When considering applicants for accommodation, the following guidelines and conditions will apply:
1. One, either the husband or wife, must be older than 60 years of age.
2. The applicant(s) must be of sound physical and mental health and may be required to provide a medical certificate.
3. The person or persons will receive preference if they have been residents of Hermanus for a period of two years or longer at any stage of their life.
4. The applicant(s) must be in sound financial state and must be able to prove it. On the other hand, a very wealthy person should not be considered as there are other developments available where high income persons may live.
It is difficult to determine a minimum and maximum income as this may change rapidly over a couple of years. In 1969, a minimum income would be R1,600 pm and a maximum income R3,200 pm for single accommodation and R3,000 pm minimum and R6,000 pm maximum for double accommodation.
5. No dogs allowed.
6. Units may not be let or given to any other person for occupation.
Currently there are 25 units and 26 garages available for rent. Of these none are still subject to a life-right agreement.
During 2011 to 2013 the exteriors of all the units were upgraded after a survey was made and the requests by tenants was incorporated therein. This includes the replacement of all rotting timber, windows, doors and facias, The exterior walls and the roofs were also repainted. The driveways were recently retarred and the irrigation system revamped.
When a tenant leaves the unit is inspected by the board and the necessary repairs is done inside to bring that unit in line with standards set by the board.
The intention is to keep Mollergren Park in a very good condition which will be both an asset for Hermanus and the Hermanus Rotary Club.