With Town Clerk Royston King warning that City Hall may no longer be fit for use for meetings, following the recent collapse of a section of the building, the City Council will be renewing its efforts to establish a restoration fund.
In November of last year, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) had announced its intention to establish a restoration fund for the building by the middle of that month.
When Mayor Patricia-Chase Green brought up the fund at a statutory council meeting yesterday, mentioning that the council had been advised that the building was “structurally sound” but just in need of repairs, King related that the council may soon need to find an alternative meeting space given the current state of the building.
“I’ve received a notification from the City Engineer with respect to the condition of this building and I suspect that, very soon, we perhaps would not be able to use it for any meetings,” King told the Council.
“…That notification was triggered by the fact that last week at around, I think it was Wednesday or Thursday, part of the building fell off. That is more to the northern side of the structure…so I’m just informing Council that we need to meet urgently to deal with this building. It is in a state where we can no longer continue and at the last meeting I made the point that what we have over our heads that’s preventing storm water from coming through on us whenever it rains is a piece of canvas, tarpaulin, that’s preventing the water from coming in,” he further related.
The Town Clerk stated that he has asked the City Engineer to look at the situation again, and informed that the Engineer is meeting with the Office of the Town Clerk and the Department of Sanitation.
In response to Councillor Monica Thomas, who asked how councillors could be sure they were safe in the building at that moment and “before the end of the day this part of the building won’t collapse,” Chase-Green said, “…I am not the engineer and we were told by one consultant that we should continue to occupy the building… because if we remove from it, it’s going to deteriorate much faster. But everyday it’s deteriorating and so we can’t stretch the life of it longer than we should. We should stop, take stock of what we have here now and decide if it is livable for the next two to three years, which it’s not, and so we have to make arrangements to remove ourselves from it as early as possible to save the loss of life and limb by anyone.”
Chase-Green made a recommendation for a fund to be established, while acknowledging that the building is “deteriorating as the days go by.”
“…We need to do something about City Hall, we just cannot sit down here and accept City Hall as it is and hand it over to another council same as it is,” she added.
She suggested that the council open an account to which councillors and members of the public would be signatories, and that they meet with the National Trust, the private sector, the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders to have the fund launched.
“I don’t want at any point in time anyone sitting here and anything collapse…this is ours, we have to restore it, so we have to start….and maybe other agencies and institutions will come on board to help us,” the Mayor said.
She asked that a meeting be held next month to further discuss the matter and that a sub-committee be formed to move the process forward. She, however, was adamant that renting a building to house the work of City Hall was out of the question as it would be too costly. She opined that it would be better to invest in the construction of a new building.
Later on, Councillor Bhishram Kuppen enquired about reported repairs done on the Constabulary Training Centre in 2016 to the tune of $23 million, as he said that it did not appear to him from what he observed that much work had been done.
King related that that information will be provided subsequently in the Engineer’s Report, which will also document what repairs were done to the Constabulary Headquarters.
In September, 2017, Chief Executive Officer of the National Trust Nirvana Persaud had told this newspaper that the European Union (EU)-funded Comprehensive Restoration and Sustainable Conservation Management Plan to restore the deteriorating City Hall building should be completed by year-end and she urged that it be implemented as soon as possible afterward.
In December last year, the EU and the Georgetown M&CC signed the contract for the creation of the plan, which was awarded to EURONET Consulting GEIE for €279,196 [$64 million].