The Sentinel would like to state at the outset that tWRF President Mr. Samuel “Tim” Byam was invited, and attended a New York Town Hall meeting convened by the New York NDC Chapter on March 13, 2016 as a representative of the Willie Redhead Foundation. The Foundation is a registered, NOT for Profit, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), and holds no brief for any political party, but sees it’s “heritage” constitutancy as the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, in keeping with its motto “For the Preservation & Renewal of the National Heritage of Grenada”.
That said, we would like to report on the outcome of that important diaspora meeting. The city of New York and its envious, which is one of the homes of the Grenadian diaspora, is perhaps the largest single enclave of Grenadians and their descendants living abroad, whose population is believed to be much more that the approximately 110,000 Grenadians living in the state of Grenada.
And although there is no overseas voting in local elections per se, their contributions to their homeland in the form of remittances, barrels, medical supplies, primary and secondary schools paraphernalia, scholarships etc. add up to a fair input into Grenada’s GDP. If for no other reason therefore, their opinion(s) on local affairs should not-nay, cannot be ignored, since they would like to return-in retirement, after many years labour in the vineyard – to a better Grenada than they left behind several years before.
The Town Hall meeting was attended by two special invitees: Senator the Hon. Ray Roberts, Chairman of “Save the Camerhogne Park Committee” and Tim Byam – President of the Willie Redhead Foundation. The venue of the meeting was at the Holy Cross Elementary School in Brooklyn NY. The meeting started at 5 pm with an attendance of about 200, thereby increasing the signature campaigne by over 100, and amassing an overal total-pushing 20,000.
The presentation by the President of the Willie Redhead Foundation is not provided verbatim, but represents the overall content of his remarks, which received plaudits and solidarity for the preservation of the park:
Grenada and its dependencies have great potential for sustained development, development which can enhance the beauty of the islands, and improve their economic, social and tourism potential by addressing the needs of its people in a holistic manner.
In order to realize this potential one must not loose focus on the importance of the green or recreational spaces, which provide for relaxation, a place of peace and quietude where the citizens can switch off and connect with nature, thereby complementing the physical and economic with the emotional and spiritual development of the human person. “Man does not live by bread alone”.
Our recreational spaces have slowly been taken away over the years, and the general populace has been denied their “Green” spaces in the name of “economic” development.
The following examples bear witness to this regrettable political tendency:
- The Esplanade Mall development: The Esplanade b efore the plaza strip mall development, had an area with trees which were decorated and lit at Christmas time, with benches designated for the residents of St. George for relaxation and recreational use; the developers of the Mall were obliged to incorporate a “green space” in the development of the new plaza for the residents of St. George and the general population. This never happened.
- The Market Square development: The unique market square which is central in the town, once had trees and sitting areas which allowed for waiting and relaxation where one could catch his or her breath while doing business in the town. The open space which no longer exist once had a French Fountain, has
now become a combination of shacks, kiosks, sheds of decaying plywood and small red tops concrete boxes, providing a home for (would-be) drug addicts and thieves.
- Queens Park: The Park, a gift from the Darbeau family to the people of St. George- was once an area where the general population was allowed free access, where kites were flown, games were played, parades, sports etc. The two stadia were built for specific purposes taking away the free green space that was utalised by clubs, schools and the public at large.
- The Botanical Gardens: The gardens once had exotic trees and plants, it was an area where visitors and the general population enjoyed and were educated on the type of flora and fauna indigenous to Grenada and the Caribbean. It was where the police band played on Sundays and children with their parents meet to recreate. The area is now “transformed” into a massive concrete village controlled by the police and security guards.
Camerhogne Park, a gift to the people of Grenada has become unfortunately, the only public free space left with direct access to the world famous Grand Anse beach-a national treasure. The Park has been, and is currently being used by the people of Grenada and visitors alike all year round. The negative transformation of the areas demonstrated above, has had a stifling effect on the town of St George as there has been no consideration for a breathing space for the residents on the island.
Camerhogne Park offers an insignificant compensation for the areas we have been forced to sacrifice for the sake of economic “development”, and is now threatened to be taken away from the people to give to a rich developer for a hotel project, which can be constructed in another parish as the beginning of a RURAL ECONOMIC Development strategy. The alternative proposal for a new relocated composite park put forward by the government, appear to give scant respect to the expressed wishes of the people, in preference to the interest of the developer and his local agents.
The objections raised by civil society and others to the relocation of the park could have been avoided if an independent and proper Land Use Development Agency, or Urban Development (quasi- Government) body was formed and allowed to professionally develop proper zoning methods and studies for a carefully planned and sustained development with the Park remaining where it is. This has not been done after 42 years of political independence, and raises the question of enlightened governance!
Camerhogne Park is the patrimony and heritage of the Grenadian people and should remain untouched, but upgraded and enhanced by including the adjoining Rivera Site as a National Heroes Park.
A Willie Redhead Foundation Presentation March 18, 2016