Camerhogne Park Relocation: A Bread and Butter Issue for the Poor

I write for the unemployed in our midst, the forgotten families who cannot make ends meet because they only have work, at best, two weeks in “lucky” months and unsure of what the next month holds, who cannot plan for the future of their families, whose children go to bed hungry nightly, mothers and fathers forced into doing unseemly things to survive – they give up their pride or what is left of their dignity  – living one day to the next  – they crave for jobs, any job – they see no future and hopelessness drives them to violent outbursts, depression and suicide –  the forgotten among us.

Labeled with the stigma of lazy unambitious freeloaders and facing colonial type economic segregation, they have been shoved by the petite bourgeoisie into pockets of ghettos throughout the state. Do we remember from whence we came?

But even the “unambitious freeloaders” too have dreams of a legacy – a family with healthy educated children, a home of their own and some of the creature comforts that make life worth living.

For the present and enduring future their only dream is work, work, and work!

However, the wise men among us slam “work now” and an enduring future with the mantra – “recreation now.”  Today the lyrics of calypso king, Mighty Sparrow, resonate more loudly than ever, “you can’t make love on empty belly.”  The choice, empty bellies at the present Camerhogne Park or work at the park site and recreation at a superior relocated ultra modern Camerhogne Park?

There is no conundrum here, no gamble; a vastly improved contemporary Camerhogne Park with superior facilities relocated within a five minute walk of the present site, on the same Grand Anse Beach, is a “winner” even if nothing else is proposed.

But there is more, much more, the area at the Vendor’s market will be substantially upgraded to include a well equipped playground to benefit disadvantaged children of the poor who play in unsanitary and unhealthy muddy and dusty village environments. Furthermore, the seven public entrances to the beach – yes seven – will also be made more scenic.

With unemployment falling, but still close to 30%, workers and farmers of Grenada will, at the very least, have opportunities for work and a market for farm products.  It should be noted that in the middle of the IMF structural adjustment program the country’s economic performance has exceeded expectations reducing unemployment by 11%.

Construction, the key economic indicator has lead the economic recovery, as indeed the case in the progressive advanced economies of the world – we need look no further than the United States.

The conversion of prime beach front property to a world class luxury hotel will further hasten Grenada’s long awaited economic recovery creating initially 150 on-site jobs supporting hundreds of family members and the additional spin off – sales at shops and supermarkets indicating a rise in disposable personal income and the overall state of the economy.

The Silver Sands five star hotel, in advancing stages of construction, has spurred business activity not only in the immediate and surrounding areas, but also in other parts of the country as well; the evidence is before our eyes – there can be no denial! The Camerhogne park project in its construction phases will similarly stimulate the economy.

At completion the Camerhogne hotel project will have up to 400 permanent workers including managerial levels.  Farmers in particular will have a niche market as hoteliers shift their preference to local organic fruits and vegetables benefiting the rural economy with taxis, tour operators, vendors and other businesses expanding their economic reach. And the accompanying increased room stock inducing more flights arrivals at MBIA – the potential spin off is incalculable.

Scaremongering hinting that the hotel developer will limit or deny access to locals at the world renowned Grand Anse Beach, by those who are well informed and know better, damaging the good name of Pure Grenada and our tourism product is unfortunate. The issue is neither political nor philosophical, it is bread and butter issue for the poor, an issue of survival for the weak and defenseless, the vulnerable to which we all too frequently turn a blind eye.

I cite the following as an example of unfounded and malicious rumours, consciously or unconsciously thrown out for public consumption; with few changes it reflects excerpts from past media reports keeping much of the original wording.

“The issue surrounding private beaches and the public right to all beaches in Grenada is back in the public domain. Former coastal zone management specialist and advisor to the Governor on Coastal Law in the US Virgin Island, Anselm Clouden proclaimed that beaches in Grenada are public heritage and no one can deny the public right of access.

SUVI Coastal Zone Management Act applies to most of the Caribbean islands including Grenada. The act was recognised by Supreme Court Judge Hon. Justice Thomas Astaphan while addressing lawyers during an injunction hearing involving Sandals Holdings Grenada Limited and Leon Taylor and Point Saline’s Development Limited.

According to the act, the law mandates that coastal business owners must give public access to the shoreline over their private property once their business lies adjacent to the shore line.

The Judge issued an admonition to Sandals that the beach in front of Sandals is public property and Sandals has no right to stop the public from having access to the beach.

A release from Sandals La Source General Manager Peter Fraser refuted suggestions, at the time appearing in the public media, that Sandals La Source was involved in a process of litigation to secure a private beach.

The statement went further to state categorically that at no time was Sandals seeking to own a private beach. Rather, according to the statement, the injunction filed was to prevent another party from
enforcing the use of a private beach, subscribing to the view that all beaches in Grenada are public.

The statement further announced that Sandals at no time since entering Grenada or at any of the nine Caribbean destinations in which they operate sought to operate any private beach, which according to the statement is not only a contravention of their business philosophy, but also against the laws of Grenada, which they embrace with the strictest of adherence.

The statement ended by saying that Sandals is a home-grown family business with the strongest appreciation for nationals’ right of access to beaches in the various destinations, they are cognisant of the xenophobia that could materialise should nationals be barred from access to beaches while unrestricted access is allowed to tourists.”

The irony of this is that Sandals La Source has weathered the scaremongering, is up and running, employing hundreds of Grenadians, who would otherwise have been unemployed, adding to the tax base and boosting the national economy. The critics have, by and large, gone silent.

“…historical Camerhogne Park that has been in existence for generations….”  (Helen Grenade – Published on January 23, 2016, Caribbean News now) is a misrepresentation – contrary to the “historical evidence.”

Maybe a gaffe in the exuberance for support against relocation of the park and in the passion of the moment neglected the proper research.

Expect the same from other critics of the Camerhogne Park relocation and construction of a five star luxury hotel. Those big guns too will ultimately go silent.

Without reservation, I not only support the project, but also stand as an advocate for the families of the poor who struggle from day to day without jobs. And unlike people opposed to the park relocation, who consider Camerhogne Park their legacy, I see things differently.

My legacy and the legacy of the poor and unemployed, I suspect, is home ownership and  securing the wellbeing of our children and grand children, and their children and grand children. I am confident that a relocated eco-friendly Camerhogne Park and construction of a world class hotel is a positive move towards poverty alleviation and the stabilisation of the national economy benefiting all Grenadians.

Go for it Dr. Keith, let the progress continue!!

Kit Stonewalling

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