Works Minister, Gregory Bowen has disclosed that Government is challenged to find an appropriate solution to deal with the issue of abandoned buildings in the Town of St. George.
The issue is topical as from time to time, portions of some of the buildings fall apart, threatening the safety of passersby, including school children and motorists.
Several persons on the island have often voiced complains that the old dilapidated buildings have become an eye sore especially to visitors to the island.
Recently, a concerned citizen walked into the office of THE NEW TODAY, complaining about a portion of an abandoned building located on St. John’s Street, St. George’s, which fell on a mini passenger bus plying the Grand Anse route, forcing street vendors to cease from doing business in the immediate area.
In commenting on the amount of abandoned buildings in the city, Minister Bowen told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that addressing the issue is not an easy task.
“You have a certain problem here,” he said, explaining that “although the buildings are abandoned… it (has) something to do with preservation – so rather than knocking it down (the preference is that) you should restore it.”
Minister Bowen who holds the portfolios for Communications, Physical Development and Public Utilities indicated that the challenge is with the “issue of how to find the financing or how to make the owners restore it (the buildings) before you knock it (the building) down.”
The Works Minister admitted that while this situation is “not in the purview of (the Ministry of) Physical Development, something has to be done” to address the safety issues in this regard.
“I think this is being given some consideration now,” Minister Bowen said, adding, “it is something that because of safety, you can move to demolish and make the owners pay for the cost of demolition, or at the same time, if you want to preserve then you can encourage them to really spend monies on it.”
According to Minister Bowen, his Ministry is presently looking at alternative measures to assist the building owners on the way forward.
“They (the owners) are claiming that there are funds out there that you can attract. So we will write up some projects to give them (the owners) an opportunity to bring in some funds so that they could do it (the project). We can give them that first step and then, certainly, we would have to move to demolish,” Minister Bowen added.
One of the major abandoned buildings in the city is York House that once served as the island’s Parliament and main high court.
Hurricane Ivan destroyed the building in September 2004.