Why do we identify land for playgrounds and then use it for housing?

Dear Editor,

Please allow me in your newspaper to congratulate the learned and esteemed Judge on his decision on January 8th, 2018 in the matter of the land along Eping Avenue, Bel Air Park.

Kudos are in order for Mr Devindra Kissoon, Attorney, for having the civic mindedness to resort to the court system which resulted in the erudite decision which was handed down.

Editor, in a more educated, progressive and democratic environment all it would have taken would have been for a majority of residents, like those in Bel Air Park, to register and record their categorical, unambiguous and unequivocal opposition to the move at a public and well-advertised formal forum at the Town Hall. I have recently seen such forums in places like Georgia, the Brooklyn Borough Council and the London boroughs. Residents are permitted in the local government laws to air their concerns and objections or express their approval in matters ranging from the construction of high rise buildings without adequate vehicle parking space, to planned traffic bypasses which may result in noise nuisance and overpasses which need the installation of Switch Back Ramp access for pedestrians and the handicapped which meet prescribed standards.

When space is somewhat inadequate the law of Eminent Domain is imposed as was done during the construction in the late 1990s of the Essequibo Coast highway. Millions were paid out in compensation to property owners for them to rearrange their building frontage to allow for the widening of the road.

I am not sure if the residents of Bel Air were offered the opportunity of formally voicing their resentment at their recreational land being utilized to build town houses as stated by the Chief Citizen et al, if so the matter would not have reached the courts.

For the Council to have the intent to use the land identified for buildings and not for recreational purposes without the concerns of residents being taken into consideration is unacceptable. It is not what local government elections brought us after twenty odd years of the non-involvement of taxpayers. Editor, this vulgarity must cease forthwith. Why is it that we originally reserve and identify lands for playgrounds in well-laid out sub-divisions and later resort to using them for housing? The history of this city is replete with such examples.

Finally, the fact that the land identified for recreation has for years been overgrown with vegetation is a dereliction on the part of the owners of high-end properties in that area. If the council was worth its salt negotiations would have started years ago for the transformation of the land for meaningful public use. I am therefore suggesting the following which I am confident will gain the attention of officialdom for its originality and content:-

(i)   The City Council should invite local architects to compete in drawing up a plan for the public use of the land with the consent of the residents.

(ii)  The transformation should include all or a mix of the following:-

(a)   A mini Sydney Opera House-style open air drama stage and identified space for a small audience seated at the eastern end of the land

(b)   A fully lighted four-court, back-to-back/side-by-side lawn tennis playing area with seating as is now being provided at the gymnasium outfield

(c)  A mini golf putting course

(d)  An elevated telescope viewing platform

(e)    A refreshment area

The activities associated with the above which will involve our youths and the public at large are intended to counteract the disastrous negative effects of the ‘Bamba Cloth’ ‘Bump and Grind’ and ‘I is’ syndrome which in great part is responsible for ‘de-educating’ the young and not so young in Guyana, and to also bring some elegance to the fore.

Yours faithfully,
A Alexander
Dep Director Civil Aviation (Ret’d)

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