The hotel belt in Grand Anse, St. George’s could find itself faced with a major health hazard if immediate remedial work is not done to overcome the onslaught of raw faeces.
The concern was raised by Hotelier Russ Fielden during a public forum organised by the grouping of Civil Society Organisations on the proposed relocation of Camerhogne Park to facilitate the construction of a hotel.
Fielden urged that a proper sewerage system must first be developed before consideration can be given for further construction to take place in the Grand Anse area.
He said the Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association (GHTA) has also raised its concerns with the Keith Mitchell Administration about the sewerage system in Grand Anse, which he described as being appalling and a national disgrace.
The Hotelier spoke of Spice Island Beach Resort currently having problems with sewerage flowing through its grounds when there is heavy rainfall.
“The open sewer ditch that runs on either side of the Morne Rouge Playing Field is a public health issue, and we cannot allow any further development of any building in that area unless a proper sewerage system is put in place,” he said.
According to Fielden, the current sewerage system from Grand Anse to the airport at Point Salines goes out into the ocean, flowing raw sewerage that has not been treated.
“So why are we thinking about putting any more development in that area until we deal with some of the basic infrastructural needs of the area,” he said.
“What other country anywhere in the world will allow major developments without putting in a proper infrastructure, proper roads, proper water and proper sewerage to dispose in an adequate manner?” he asked.
The Hotelier said for this reason alone no further development should be going on in the Grand Anse area, and that additional development should be tied in with a sewerage plan.
Fielden, a former GHTA President, said the association has been debating the issue “quite deeply and quite forcefully” for the past few weeks.
He shared with the audience the contents of a letter that was written to government about a month ago pertaining to the relocation of Camerhogne Park by GHTA President Jerry Rappaport.
The letter said in part that GHTA is committed to the sustainable development of tourism in Grenada that benefits all sectors of society.
It stressed that park areas are an integral part of society, and are an essential component in sustainable development.
“In that regard the removal or relocation of a park is a serious matter that must not be done without serious considerations of the factors involved,” the letter also said.
During the meeting with the government, GHTA had called for the development of a comprehensive sewerage plan for the Grand Anse area, which must be completed before further development of any other hotel at Grand Anse.
The former GHTA President spoke of tourism being fickle, noting that tourism dropped in 2001 after the bombing of the New York Twin Towers, and again in 2004 due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan.
“It is too fickle for us to rely too heavily on tourism to develop our economy,” he said.
Grenada currently has a room stock of 1500.
Fielden said the development of the country has to be done in a sustainable manner, one that allows the people to grow wealthy without having to rely on an industry that could be doomed by just one outbreak of a disease.
The importance of having “green spaces” to enhance proper health was brought out by Medical Doctor, Keisha Lowe who said that Camerhogne Park, which has special significance for Grenadians, provides a sense of place and belonging, and “intimately connects us as a people.”
Dr. Lowe pointed out that healthy urban open spaces are important because they provide a variety of functions and opportunities in the society for physical activities, for use of the natural environment, to respect and provide for a diverse range of cultures, ages and socio-economic status, as well as to create a safe and healthy place for people to connect with others.
The female Physician said current research shows that access to open, especially “green spaces” improve people’s sense of well being.
She added that contact with nature can reduce the burden of disease on the health-care system by promoting health and healing.
Dr. Lowe indicated that the use of open spaces such as Camerhogne Park to promote physical activities is very important to help address chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, strokes and cancer.
“Camerhogne Park promotes health behaviour by providing an acceptable, affordable and enjoyable place to be physically active. It encourages walking, outdoor activities, outdoor games,” she said.
The medical doctor disclosed that several studies have found that the more time spent outdoor in public “green spaces” is the less stress felt.
“A key goal of both public health and government planning must be to create and maintain quality, open and green spaces that are relevant to, and utilised by all sections of our community,” she told participants.
“We need to stand firm and make sure that the last piece of green in Grand Anse is preserved,” she said.
Former Director of Tourism, Jude Bernard provided the forum with a history of Camerhogne Park due to his personal involvement in its establishment as Director of Tourism between 1990-93.
Bernard who spoke passionately about government’s plans to relocate the park said that was created for current and future generation of Grenadians to enjoy “a piece of Grand Anse Beach in peace.”
“Today, the mere thought of having to lose something like that, it hurts. It really, really hurts and it hurts very deeply that anyone could ever even consider (relocating the park)… To me this is very insulting,” he said.
According to the former Tourism Director, the park, which had to include the Spiceland Mall location, was supposed to be 25 acres.
He lashed out at the proposed plan to part ways with the park at its current location.
“Personally, I would say to you that this proposal is beyond indecent, it is disrespectful… for us as ordinary Grenadians, especially when you consider what is being offered in exchange for this.
“It is immoral, it is so “Camerhogne Park, the only public space the only public space that we have on the world famous pristine beach… they want to take it away from us, no way. We should not allow this to happen, that when people feel once they have money in their pocket they can buy your wife, they can buy your child, they can do anything with whatever means.
“Let us not prostitute ourselves for a few dollars more, again.
President of the Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC) Kenny James told the audience that Grenadians must recognise the need to stand up and to say “no” when there is a need to say “no.”
James indicated that a significant number of people are saying “no,” not to the project or to investments, but the population is saying “no” to the removal of Camerhogne Park.
“Grenadians welcome investment, Grenadians welcome investors, but Grenadians also believe that when you come here, you’re coming to work with us. You’re not coming to dictate to us, but you’re coming to work with us to enhance what we have,” he said.
The TUC Head said the umbrella body of Trade Unions will always be on the side of sustainable employment and decent work, and people getting what is due to them for “their hard work.”
He stressed that the TUC is also on the side of people who recognise that this is “our country and that in its development, we need to have a say.”
“If you’re going to do anything, because we are in a democratic society which is about the people and for the people, when the people say no, then, as a (country) we have to agree; the people have spoken, and we say no (to the relocation of Camerhogne Park,” he said.
James acknowledged that unemployment in the country is extremely high and as such the political directorate will explore whatever means necessary to find jobs and to create jobs.
“Based on the timing right now, it has to happen soon!” he interjected.
However, James said the difference will come through “the Grenadianess.”
“Are we willing, as Leaders, to sell the people’s asset, to give away the people’s asset knowing that at the end of it, really, the bottom line is the benefit that we would get from such a project is not exceptionally, fifty, sixty jobs, but at what level? At the end of the day how much of that money is pumped into the Grenadian economy as opposed to how much will be exported?” he asked.
James questioned what guarantee will there be that both the existing rooms, and the ones to be built will be filled by visitors.
There are reports that some hotel workers are currently experiencing rotations from the job as there is a low volume of stay-over visitors on the island.
James said that he uses the park on a weekly basis and cherishes the fact that it is not only called Camerhogne Park but its present location is ideal for all those who use it.
He expressed fears there will be a security risk for people using the park if it is relocated further down from its present location.
“The current location, close to Wall Street, an active place, offers you some sense of security, that I can go there (at the park) any hour, even if it is after twelve in the night, and I can relax myself, whether by myself, with my significant other, or as a family,” he said.
President of the Willie Redhead Foundation, Tim Byam who also made a presentation at the public forum called for the Grenadian people to become militant in ensuring that the last “green space” which is at Camerhogne Park is kept.
Byam joggled the people’s minds to the year 2000 when the Esplanade Development was being proposed.
He said the promise by the authorities of providing the “green space” at the Esplanade with trees never materialised.
“We used to have our “green space,” a space where we were allowed to exhale,” he added.
Byam said people are now suffering from not being able to recreate in the city due to the lack of the “green space” at the Esplanade.
As an Architect, the Willie Redhead Foundation President said there is need to look at development in a holistic manner.
He said the haphazard manner in which development is being undertaken by government is taking place “in front our eyes without us realising what is happening.”
“Camerhogne Park, the only public space that we have on the world famous pristine beach… they want to take it away from us, no way. We should not allow this to happen,” he added.