City Hall has once again aggravated a residential community by appropriating its recreational space for commercial purposes – in this case Roxanne Burnham Gardens for a barbecue pit.
On Tuesday Stabroek News reported that residents of the community are displeased with a decision made by the Mayor and City Council to allow the transformation of reserve land, at the entrance of the community, into a barbeque pit.
City Hall yesterday released a statement explaining that it has “given permission to a group of young residents to operate a mobile food cart in the Roxanne Burnham Gardens area on a portion of its reserve.”
The city was keen to promote its action as a social policy to promote youth employment and early childhood development noting that “this project which would provide employment for young people would assist with meals for children attending the nursery school within that area. Also, it will provide a monthly fitness and health programme for youths of Roxanne Burnham Gardens, which includes fitness workouts on the playfield.”
According to the statement signed by Town Clerk Royston King, apart from the yearly lease fee it is required to pay, the project will provide for the maintenance of the playfield and all the play equipment thereon.
“The Mayor and City Council views this as a good project and encourages all members of Roxanne Burnham Gardens community and all other contiguous communities to support this project, which is aimed at promoting the good and sustainable development of that part the city,” it adds before encouraging other entrepreneurs to emulate the civic mindedness of this group and support the collective effort of the council to restore Georgetown to its pristine state and to sustainably develop it for the good of all.
The statement however fails to note that the residents were never contacted about the project. There is no mention of the sum of the leasing fee or whether this project conforms with current zoning laws or if an environmental impact study was conducted.
Additionally both Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Constituency Councillor Sherod Duncan appear to be unaware of the project and there is no evidence it was ever taken to full council for approval.
Stabroek News has reported one resident noting that while the community respects every citizen’s right to earn a living, they do not feel that it should come at the discomfort of others. She noted that based on what has been communicated to them, the council has granted permission to a businessman from Kitty to set down an old container which will be transformed into a barbeque pit stop.
Highlighting the main reasons for their displeasure, the woman said, the placement of the barbeque stop at the entrance to the community would generate traffic build up, while adding that the smoke will also create discomfort for residents who live close by.
Residents of the area are also concerned that once the proposed establishment opens, it will attract loiterers, which would leave residents uneasy when traversing there. “We respect everyone’s right to earn a living but putting that there would be wholly inappropriate… We want our green spaces to remain green spaces,” she added.
The woman explained that no one in the community was consulted before the decision was made and she said the Roxanne Burnham Community Development Group has since made attempts to meet with the Mayor and City Council to have the decision reviewed.
It was noted that the chairperson of the committee was able to speak with Mayor Chase-Green who promised to “look into the matter.”
Notwithstanding this, the woman said residents are committed to seeing action taken by the Mayor and City Council.