Group behind Roxanne Burnham Gardens barbecue pit says venture to offer community much more

The area where the venture will be located

“It’s going to be more than a barbeque pit,” says one of the two persons involved in the project that will see the transformation of reserve land at the entrance of Roxanne Burnham Gardens into a barbeque pit.

The venture, which is being spearheaded by the GT Grills Development Group, has met with opposition from residents, even as the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has assured that the project will provide employment for young people and will would assist with meals for children attending the nursery school within the area.

“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,” the M&CC said in a statement last week, while also encouraging other entrepreneurs to emulate the civic mindedness of the 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. 

According to the statement, which was 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.

Stabroek News has learned that the group would have approached the Mayor and City Council two months ago seeking permission and would have been granted permission by the council on April 28th, 2018.The letter, which was signed by Town Clerk Royston King, was seen by this newspaper.

In the letter, Council noted its acknowledgment of the letter of request to operate a mobile food restaurant at the said location and its decision to grant permission.

Further, the council in its letter said, “However, separate and apart from the fees you are required to pay on a monthly basis, the council anticipates that you would assist to keep the Roxanne Burnham Gardens Playfield clear, tidy, free from long grass, undergrowth’s, overhanging trees and accumulated and scattered refuse.”

Like the city, a group representative, who spoke with this newspaper but asked not to be named, said that apart from the obvious establishment of a new food spot, it will also be presenting opportunities for employment within the area and looking at investments in community development, particularly in the area of sport and fitness.

In addition, there are plans to eventually set up a section to be used as an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) space, where students from the area will have access to a computer and internet access to complete school work.

Commenting on claims made by some residents that they are going to be putting them out of business with the utilisation of the space, the businessman said that is not the group’s intention.

“It was not our intention to have anyone move or anything…. it was not going to be done in a manner that would take anybody off because we were planning to bring those who were already there on board with us. We were not going to fight anybody or anything,” he explained.

“One person was there occupying the land and we spoke to him. He said he did not have permission and we told him if he can get permission he can stay and work along with us,” he added.

The man also refuted claims that they did not engage the Roxanne Burnham Community Development Committee, while noting that when they learnt about the committee they made several attempts to meet and discuss the plans.

“We would have also reached out to the council and they advised us to reach out to the community and I would have done that,” he said.

This however, did not work since, according to him, the group’s approaches were met with overwhelming opposition from some of the women who form the body.

As a result, the businessman said they opted instead to speak with other residents and shared their plans with them.

“We have met with some residents and they welcomed the plans because they agreed that place just dead. I was put on to a Mr. Morris, a resident from the area who we spoke to for about a month and he gave us an idea of what the community needed,” the man told Stabroek News.

“We have the support of most of the residents there, we have spoken to them, it’s just this one group of women who keep saying they have their own objectives and plans and they don’t need us. Even with that I said since we going to be investing in the community either way, maybe we can invest in their projects too and share ideas. We asked them to see their proposals but up to now they can’t show us anything. I know for a fact they don’t have a community centre and I think that one of the first things that could have been done was build a community centre but nothing is coming out of them,” the businessman added.

Several calls had been made by this newspaper for a comment on the claims made by the business but these attempts proved futile.  

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