“You hear certain people talking about planning and the plans have been done but the powers-that-be ignored the plan and go on to do their own thing.”
Those words were uttered by Dr. Kenneth Buckmire, Chairman of the National Science and Technology Council, who was involved in the planning stages for the development of controversial Camerhogne Park at Grand Anse.
Dr. Buckmire agreed to be interviewed by THE NEW TODAY newspaper against the backdrop of a bitter fight by persons opposed to government’s stated intention to allow a developer to use the park to build a hotel/fleet of condos.
The council, which is no longer functioning, was in operation in the 1990’s when the Camerhogne Park project started under the then New National Party (NNP) government of late Prime Minister, Herbert Blaize.
Current Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell served as Minister of Works in that administration.
According to Dr. Buckmire, the council was set up to help oversee any developmental plan in the country and was comprised of stakeholders in education, environment, and agriculture among others.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper last Friday, Dr. Buckmire revealed that during the National Science and Technology Council’s reign in 1987, a master plan for the Grand Anse area was developed to ensure that the greenery and the beach was preserved during development.
This plan, he said resulted in a greater part of the Morne Rouge area being designated for Camerhogne Park.
“Where the (Spiceland) Mall) is, all this was part of Camerhogne Park. Governments over the years have completely brushed off the biggest section of it -they have put buildings and all sorts of things there and this was not what we were thinking about in those days,” he remarked.
According to the Master Plan shown to this newspaper, “the Morne Rouge Cove has been included in the Master Plan and provides a forty acre development site unequal anywhere. With 1,600 feet of beachfront and a breathtaking mountain backdrop, Morne Rouge will be treated as a special development area.
“…Camerhogne Park is designed to provide Grand Anse with a recreation focus. Tennis facilities and a cultural center will provide hotel and condominium developments with an expanded off-site amenity…”, said the document.
“The measurement of what is happening on the Grand Anse Beach and we found is that Grand Anse Beach was deteriorating; we were losing Grand Anse Beach by .5 to 1 metre per year and this was discovered in the 1980s and because of this and other concerns several environmentalists and so on this was designed,” he said.
In an effort to save the beach, Dr. Buckmire said the Council had recommended to government that after the Ramada Hotel, which is now called Radisson, no more hotels should be placed along that side of the beach.
“Since then we have had the Flamboyant coming, we have had the Allamanda coming in…they put it up against what we were suggesting because the pressure from the Gray water from the hotels, the pressure from rain water, all these cause problems to Grand Anse.
“The reefs, which is dead now, is made up of small invertebrates and they are the ones that grow and they produce corals. Now all these animals have died, many of these have disappeared because of what is taking place…”, he added.
According to Dr. Buckmire, with the demise of the Science Council, governments over the years seemingly abandoned the developmental plan for the area.
“We were going for certain concrete and scientific approach to development and many of the politicians from then until now…the politicians wanted to control the technical people and it has continued down the line and the sad thing about it to me is that many of our senior civil servants and technicians are prepared to just accept what the politicians are telling them and not to spend time on the scientific principle,” he remarked.
Although the Master Plan has been ignored, he believes that there are still some aspects of it that can be considered, especially with the construction of the Silver Sands Project and the potential Riviera Project.
“We can still go back to some aspects of it so that we do not really cause the lifetime degradation of the whole Grand Anse area because what we are doing, we’re gradually and especially in climate change now, gradually getting rid of the Grand Anse beach,” he warned.
Dr. Buckmire expressed fears that Grenada is becoming a concrete Jungle, noting that even in the concrete jungle of London, New York and Paris, there is still that Green space for the use of the public.