Taking over open spaces is not advancement of the city

Dear Editor,

I have seen more than one letter in our newspapers, written by persons who clearly did not read the reasons for the Judge’s ruling in the matter of the Residents of Bel Air Park versus the Mayor and City Council.

For example, in a letter critical of an SN editorial, Marla Prince Soberes states, inter alia, “The editorial noted that the Town Clerk had intended to build houses for the city hierarchy including himself. If the law supports the action or intended action then there is no dereliction of duty” (‘SN attacked the person and office of the Town Clerk’ SN, Feb 7). And that is the crux of the problem.  The law does not support the intended action. If Ms Prince Soberes read the reports of the court action she should have seen that the reason for the Judge’s refusal to permit the City Council to proceed as planned is that there is a restrictive covenant in the document transferring that land from the then sugar company to what was then the Mayor and Town Council (M&TC).  A restrictive covenant is a legally binding obligation written into the deed transferring a property from the owner to another person, in this case from Bookers Sugar Estates to what was then the Mayor & Town Council (M&TC).

That restriction specified that the land was to be reserved for community purposes.  There is no way that the Mayor, the Town Clerk, the Engineer and the Medical Officer can be considered “the community” of Bel Air Park. The M&TC, now the Mayor and City Council, were supposed to maintain the grounds. Which they did at least up to the 1970s when I lived there. I know that under the last government the city, with restricted funding, ceased to be a ‘Garden City’ and became more like an abandoned estate. I returned home on more than one occasion and was appalled by the state of wards like Alberttown and Queenstown. And as for Hadfield St where I grew up, the drainage trench had become no better than a sewage pit. However none of that makes it legally right for the four members of the City Council to appropriate community property to their own use.

As for the Farnum playground, that too, I understand is community property. Why should a part of it be handed over to one school in the area? If the Mayor and City Council had the interests of the people of Georgetown at heart could they not have got all schools and residents in the catchment area to work together to upgrade the playing field, for the benefit of all the children in that area? Why should one school alone benefit? Are only the children of that specific school to benefit from recreational activities which, as Ms Prince Soberes states, “are pivotal to the physiological and sociological development of children”?

I agree with the writer that “there are some persons who do not want to see the advancement of the city”. However I cannot agree that those persons who object to community property being taken over by four of the highest ranking individuals on the City Council as housing for themselves, or those who object to similar community property being handed over to one school, are inhibiting the advancement of the city. What Georgetown lacks, more than anything else, is open spaces where children can safely play; such play areas should exist in every ward. I cannot see how appropriating the few spaces that exist for the benefit of four individuals or for one school can be termed “advancement of the city”.

Yours faithfully,

Pat Robinson Commissiong

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