Grenada’s Lagoon Battle steps up – Port Louis enhances diving attractions while citizens lament poor relocations and environmental concerns

Grenada it seems is a premier spot for real estate development – environmentalists wish to employ minimal methods whereas seafaring interests have broader strokes for establishing their own mark… Where necessary for legal purposes or length, we have edited comments.

In the Bajan Reporter’s view, both sides have certain merits and valid reasons, but neither side represents the be-all nor end-all of this News-Blog’s thinking on the regional matter; however – in the interests of clarity we air both perspectives…

First to air their concerns will be the the Willie Redhead Foundation, who believes the Carenage part of St George’s has been diminished through excessive development by the previous regime –

Some time last week in more than one T.V news telecast the Minister for the Town of St. George who is the Minister for Tourism was heard to say ? words to that effect- that an accommodation is being sought with Camper & Nicholson to team up with the Ministry of Tourism to revitalize the Carenage.

The business places on the Carenage and adjacent sites have made strenuous efforts to breathe some life back into the area and the activities of the GO CARENAGE COMMITTEE are perhaps not as well known as it should be, but with little support from the previous Government not much have been achieved and we are not aware of any initiative by the present Government to engage the Go Carenage Committee.

Readers familiar with some of the activities of the Willie Redhead Foundation would recall that for the better part of two years (2006-7) the Foundation was engaging the Management of Port Louis, then sometime later within that same time span ? both Port Louis/Camper Nicholson to disabuse themselves from the notion of filling the lagoon and building cottages or other structures on the narrow strip of land along the peoples? Lagoon Park, which besides its inherent disregard for our environment would completely obscure and therefore deny the Grenadian public forever, the therapeutic ambiance and vistas from this unique marine environment.

From our experience in dealing with these companies we are of the considered opinion that while listening to the concerns of the Foundation and by extension the larger Grenadian community they have shown no genuine intention of accommodating or significantly adjusting their initial development plans/proposal and were merely taking us for a ride, hence the need to discontinue dialogue and to explore other means to rescue our lagoon park. So what is there on the Carenage they are so interested in revitalizing, is it in Grenada?s best interest or is it for the accommodation of their mega yachts?

The present administration assured the Grenadian public during the election campaign that it would examine the existing contract agreements with Companies such as Port Louis. Indeed during an exclusive interview with Mike Roberts- the New York based columnist who in his regular articles in the Spice Isle Review of July 17, 2008, in answer to a question from Roberts the Prime Minister is quoted as saying ??we are not going to do a witch hunt. But we are going to base our activities and inquiries on the law and our constitution. For example we are going to look into the Lagoon Road Project and how come the NNP Government sold 23 acres of land for $1.00 a square foot well below the market price??

It is therefore incumbent on the Minister of Tourism for the sake of Grenada and its people that he proceed slowly and perhaps cautiously in dealing with agencies [who may have policies opposing their stated intentions].

Also joining in the clarion cry is the tireless Sandra C.A. Ferguson, she thinks the relocation of certain folk for the convenience of maritime renovations by the Mitchell regime may have been too arbitrary –

Attn: Hon. Alleyne Walker

Minister of Lands, Co-operatives, Housing and Community Development

Attn: Sen. Glen Noel

Minister of State

Ministry of Lands, Co-operatives, Housing and Community Development

Hon. Ministers,

Re Port Louis Project – Relocation of Mt. Pandy Families

Greetings Hon. Ministers!

I continue in my letter writing tradition and I take this opportunity to offer my congratulations on the victory of your party in the July 8th elections and subsequent ascent to political office.

After 13 years of mismanagement and pauperization of our nation, the Grenadian people have put the brakes on the further slide. ?Enough is enough,? they loudly and boldly declared at the June 8th elections, entrusting the stewardship of the nation and the management of its affairs into the hands of your party.

We the people are aware that your administration has inherited a very difficult situation, exacerbated by a hostile external environment but there is a lot of goodwill and hope. We the people are counting on the NDC administration to courageously and decisively effect the CHANGE for which we the people voted overwhelmingly.

I take this opportunity to bring to the attention of your ministry, and to yourselves in particular, the plight of families relocated from Mt. Pandy to areas in Beausejour, La Sagesse and Mt. Delice, to make way for the Port Louis development of Peter De Savary. I want to bring to your attention, Hon. Ministers, the deplorable conditions into which these persons were relocated. Of particular concern are:

1. Lack of proper access, particularly for the residents of La Sagesse and Beausejour, which is stymieing their individual efforts to complete their houses and enhance their conditions.

In some instances, mothers have sacrificed their jobs to stay at home with their babies because they cannot negotiate the road where there is rain.

2. Poor quality of construction of the houses into which persons were relocated

3. Inadequate arrangements for utilities such as water and electricity

It would seem that the relocation of persons took place independently of the Ministry of Housing, the Housing Authority of Grenada and the Agency for Reconstruction and Development which had developed guidelines for establishing housing settlements which Beausejour and La Sagesse relocation could be called.

Finally Sirs, I implore you to go take a look for yourselves or send out your technical people to assess the conditions with a view to alleviating the plight and redressing the injustice to which our people were subjected in order to facilitate [the changes made]. As the rains pour, I think particularly of the persons in Beausejour who will have to negotiate all that mud. The last time I visited, which was well before the July elections and in the dry season, sewage systems were already leaking and one had to negotiate little pools along the mud path. School begins in a couple of weeks and it would be quite a relief to the school children and their parents if something could be done to alleviate their situation.

I thank you, Hon. Sirs, for the opportunity to bring this vexing matter to your attention.

Best regards!

Sincerely yours,

Meanwhile, Port Louis with Camper-Nicholson have embarked on an ambitious project to increase their popularity, they’ve been ensuring the lagoon is not only environmentally pure but safe for diving tours –

As a result of Camper & Nicholsons? on going effort to clean up Port Louis Marina, Grenada has a new and rare tourist attraction to add to it?s collection of wrecks that serve as dive sights for scuba divers. The island currently boasts 16 wrecks and now a Cuban fishing vessel will become the 17th wreck in Grenada?s diving portfolio.

Last week a 50 ft Cuban fishing vessel was removed from the Port Louis Marina and relocated off Grand Anse Beach at a current dive sight called the Valleys, which is part of Boss Reef. Phil Saye, President of The Grenada Scuba Diving Association said, ?The new wreck sight will serve to enhance an already amazing dive site and offer scuba divers a rare chance to view a piece of maritime history.?

The Cuban fishing vessel is rare in that it is made entirely of concrete and is thought to be designed and built in the 1970?s as a Cuban attempt to building ships at a lower cost.

As there is very little information on the history of the boat including her proper name, she?s affectionately been called ?Daisy? in honour of the barge operator who removed her from the Port Louis Marina and put her in her new home at Boss Reef.

Camper & Nicholsons is thrilled to be part of unearthing a piece of maritime history as a result of their efforts to clean up the marina and are hopeful that the addition of a 17th dive site will provide a boost to Grenada?s already booming scuba diving product.

This is the second wreck that Camper & Nicholsons has donated to the dive association?s efforts to increase the scuba diving attractions for tourists. Six weeks ago another small barge was removed from Port Louis and relocated in Dragon Bay as the first attraction in what the Grenada Scuba Diving Association hopes will become a new snorkeling adventure destination.

Prior to this, during the first clean up phases of the lagoon in 2007, Peter de Savary Group had also removed wreck ?Hilda? and sunk it in the open waters outside of Mollinierre where it would contribute as a dive site also.

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