Grenada’s ruling New National Party (NNP) was noticeably absent last Wednesday when political parties contesting the March 13 general election gathered to sign a resolution to preserve Camerhogne Park for public use.
The Save Camerhogne Park Committee had invited all political parties to sign the resolution aimed at committing them to save the park if they got into office following the election.
The signing ceremony was held at the park last Wednesday and attracted eight political parties and Independent Candidates among them the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Grenada Progressive Movement (GPM) headed by former member of the NNP, Terrence Forrester.
Chairman of the Camerhogne Park Committee, Jude Bernard said he was not surprised that no representative from the NNP turned up for the ceremony.
“Extremely disappointed but not the least bit surprised”, he said.
He, however, asked the voting population to take note of those who have signed onto the resolution.
“We have received the commitment from those who were prepared to make a commitment and we acknowledge and we note those. We trust that the population, 86%, in 2016 indicated just that, that they wanted to preserve the park.
“We trust that they would take note of that as well and we trust that in determining who they will love to represent them, they will bear that in mind.
“We just hope that the voting population will take note of those who have committed and those who chose not to.
Bernard also made reference to reports circulating in some quarters on the island that the Mitchell-led government might have already sold Camerhogne Park to a private hotel developer.
He said if this was the case then the people of Grenada will have to exercise their power to regain what is naturally theirs.
“In the case where someone gives a commitment and they get into office and they find that the park was already committed, I think … we’ll have to rely on the power of the people to reclaim what is rightfully and truly theirs”, he told reporters.
“So, in that case, we as a committee cannot prescribe what should be done but we can only say that our people have to realise and appreciate the amount of power that is in their hands and if something is taken from you that was in a probably unscrupulous way and you think that is unfairly done, you have a right to reclaim and I know that the people of Grenada will not sit idly by and lose the Camerhogne Park without a fight”, he said.
NNP Executive member and candidate for the Town of St. George, Peter David told a radio programme last week that the park has not been sold by government.
Apart from NDC and GPM, the six other political parties signing the resolution were Grenada Empowerment Movement (GEM) represented by Earl Maitland, The Progress Party of Basil Williams, The Liberal Party which is headed by attorney-at-law, Venescia Francis-Banfield, The New Beginning represented by Rolley Duncan, the Movement for Independent Candidates represented by Lawrence Amede and Independent Candidate, John R.A. Fletcher.
In brief comments made, Fletcher said he held firmly to the view that the park should remain for the use of the people.
“My reasons for coming to sign this document is that I am of the firm belief that not only Camerhogne park be saved but the entire so-called hotel belt…”, he told reporters.“…I think we are saturated and we should keep what we have and make it a beautiful garden for the Caribbean,” he said.
Francis-Banfield feared that the park was already sold by the NNP regime and charged that Prime Minister Mitchell should be held accountable by the population.
“I endorse this signing here today and the resolution and I am happy with the terms therein. We want to send a clear signal to Dr. Mitchell that we will not sit by and have him dispose of our national assets in the way that he does.
“We are strongly going to oppose it and I am reliably informed that this has been sold already but we want to tell him that we are here and we are watching him. So, he can lie to us as many times as possible but we are going to deal with this situation if I am elected into government.”
According to Congress Leader, Nazim Burke if the NDC is elected into office, changes will be made to the Grenada Constitution to ensure that the country’s national assets are preserved.
Burke said: “We have taken the firm position as we have said in repeatable occasions that we will preserve the national heritage of this country, we’ll preserve the national patrimony, we’ll preserve the national assets of the country at all cost.
“That is why we say that once given the opportunity, one of the first amendments we will make to the Constitution, once given that opportunity is to include in the Constitution a provision that says the national patrimony of the state including Camerhogne Park, including Grand Etang, including the ports, including Fedon’s Camp, including Carib’s Leap and all of those sites of national significance, they will be preserved for the preservation and use of Grenadians and will not be sold to anyone at anytime under any circumstances.
“We identify with the contents of the resolution and we look forward to all Grenadians taking a stand against this recklessness.
Earl Maitland of Grenada Empowerment Movement gave assurances that he will stand with anyone who has the “country’s best interest” at heart.
He said, “I myself, I come here normally to relax and clear my head. I am a person that believes that a country is as strong as its assets which includes its people, its lands, its passports. It is very discomforting seeing time and time again that our assets are being sold and there are no answers provided by the government which I came to the conclusion that the government clearly does not understand its purpose to the people. I am here and I will stand with anyone that has the country’s best interest.”
Forrester reiterated the need for a green space in the country.
“This is not a park that has been developed or that has come about recently. This (Camerhogne Park) has been around for many, many, years and the Grenadian public has become comfortable in utilising this facility for the recreational purposes and other events and therefore it will be highly unwise of any government to prevent and to deny the people their rights for recreation.
“Grenadians would recall the development that took place on what was known as the Esplanade and I know at the time there were many calls for a green space to be created on the Esplanade -unfortunately, that was not secured.
“It is therefore a condition that Grenadians must all rise together in support of protecting this historical aspect of Camerhogne Park in the interest of ourselves and in the interest of generations to come…we deserve better in this country.
Rolley Duncan of The New Beginning remarked: “I too will like to join my voice with those who have gone before to express our dissatisfaction in the giving away of our green space and our national asset and I stand resolute to do whatever it takes in an effort to preserve what we have”.
Like the other political leaders, Basil Williams of The Progressive Party is committed to ensuring that the park remains for the use of locals.
“It is important to us, history and our heritage by the time our kids and grand kids are old enough to remember anything, there is nothing left for them to actually remember. So, we wanted to come here and lend our support and let the Grenadian public know that we stand behind them and we want to preserve our heritage and our history”, he said.