Officials take no action to save City Hall

Two months after consultants’ report…

Two months after the preliminary report on City Hall’s restoration was submitted by the two overseas consultants to the Mayor & City Council, everything is at a standstill while the building continues to deteriorate.

Window panes and sections of the wall are falling off the building yet no official seems to care. In an interview with Stabroek News recently Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, who is performing the role of Mayor in the absence of Hamilton Green who is overseas, said that there is no immediate help in sight for City Hall.

A badly deteriorated section of City Hall (Stabroek News file photo/Arian Browne)
A badly deteriorated section of City Hall (Stabroek News file photo/Arian Browne)

The two overseas consultants, Ihosvany De Oca Morales and Nigel Renwick had said that the “greater part” of the deterioration of City Hall is a result of water ingress. They also stated that priority should be given to finding a solution to the situation, which is the key factor triggering many other problems.

The report also said that entire sections of the guttering system are missing, blocked or disconnected and the continuity of rainwater drainage is interrupted. The building, they wrote, was in “cardiac arrest.” As such urgent action needed to be taken and recommendations were made for immediate intervention to stop the water leakage.

Chase-Green said that no major immediate steps have been taken by the council as was recommended by the consultants.  She explained that they had brought the two consultants to examine the building and are trying to work with the report but that Acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba had not been carrying out the necessary action that needed to be taken.

Chase-Green said that Sooba is the person responsible for implementing the recommendations for immediate intervention, and for purchasing the materials required should that be necessary. She said “if anything has to be bought, she has to sign the cheques. We have already said it is important and we have to move forward. She wants to do what the engineer needs to do.”

The Deputy Mayor went on to comment that any further deterioration of City Hall lies on the head of Sooba who, she said, has not been doing the things she ought to do. “She is not dealing with what she is supposed to deal with,” she said

When asked about the restoration work on the building on Monday, Sooba said that she will hold a press conference when she is ready to deal with the issue.

During the initial stage of the restoration project, Mayor Green had said that he is in the process of forming an independent committee to manage the funds to oversee the process. When asked about the status of this committee, Chase-Green said it has not been formed as yet. She said that another meeting is still to be called to deal with funds and that the committee cannot be formed without the cooperation of the City Engineer or Town Clerk. This cooperation is what is missing she said.

Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Local Government Norman Whittaker said when contacted, that they have seen the report submitted by the consultants and are currently looking at it. He also said that they are currently discussing the restoration project with the council.

The year before last the government had given the council $20 million to assist with the rehabilitation of the building but only $5 million had been spent on some repair to the windows. Green had also said that they are awaiting a project proposal from the City Engineer’s Department on how the remaining amount should be spent. It is still not clear whether that proposal was ever drafted.

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