The Save the Camerhogne Park Committee has said that all the plans it has to develop the park in the south of the island was being put on hold following government’s rejection of its proposals to collaborate with them on the initiative.
THE NEW TODAY understands that Minister of Tourism, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen sent a letter to the committee, dated September 24 in which she indicated that government was “not able to enter into any agreement at this time.”
Chairman of the Save the Camerhogne Park Committee, Jude Bernard told reporters at a media brief last week Wednesday that the group is disappointed with the response but believes that the door is not totally shut in their face.
“The door is not shut but we are told that they are unable at this time. I take this to be a policy statement, not just from the Minister or the ministry but from the government. The fact that they took four months to get back to us is an indication probably there was contemplation, there were discussions…”, he said.
“We see that as disappointing…we thought that it can be a good thing if we can work together and we explained to minister at that time of the meeting the reasons why. Now that we have received such a correspondence, it means that no longer can we expect that collaboration and that cooperation”, he added.
According to Bernard, the ministry is the custodian of the park and the response received will now affect the ability of the committee to raise any funds for the development of Camerhogne Park.
“The park is right now at a very run down and dilapidated state. The tables and benches – they’re broken … they need repainting, they need cleaning and we had received indication from persons that once you secure the park, then we will work with you to assist in maintaining and enhancing the park”, he said.
“There is a children area towards the beach which is now non-existent but we were seeking assistant from overseas to help us to do a new kids area for the park. Now unfortunately, all those initiatives will have to be put on hold because we do not have any authority on the park”, he added.
Bernard pointed out that the plans that were put together for the park would have seen everything being channeled through the Ministry of Tourism and as such “we can’t get into any agreement with (anyone) … and to me this is sad”.
The Chairman believes said that the hands of the Keith Mitchell-led ruling New National Party (NNP) government are seemingly tied when it comes to work being done at Camerhogne Park.
“We think that it is unfortunate that we couldn’t forge that kind of working relationship but also to me is a very powerful signal – the most powerful signal yet that it seems that the ministry’s hands are tied in terms of doing things at the park.
“I don’t want to read too much into it but to me it is a clear signal that probably some of our greatest fears probably are about to be realised.”
This is an obvious reference to fears being expressed in some quarters that government is committed to giving away the park to a foreign developer to facilitate the construction of another hotel along the Grand Anse beach.
Prime Minister Mitchell has warned that the future of the park is not settled and that the plans to incorporate it as part of the development of the nearby Riviera is very much on the cards.
Bernard stated that given the response from the Ministry of Tourism it means that the committee will have to become more vigilant and aggressive in defending and protecting Grenada’s patrimony.
Vice Chairman of the Committee, George Mason told reporters that it is very ironical that the government will respond in such a negative manner in light of its repeated calls for collaboration with other interest groups.
He feared that the Mitchell-led regime shied away from the issue since it did not want “to legitimise the Save the Camerhogne Park Committee because if they agree to work along with the committee it will actually be giving the committee legitimacy so in my opinion I think that they are spurning the (invitation) to collaborate”.
Mason said: “It’s very ironic because the government is always saying let’s organise together, let’s work together, organise committees, organise youth groups, organise village councils at different levels so that the government can work along with those interest bodies.
“Now the committee is asking that the government work along, they are saying that they can’t so it’s ironic. The question is when will they be able to work along with the committee and are they very serious about seeking participation and collaboration from interest groups to develop Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
“…Here we are asking them to work along with us and we are being told that they can’t work. People are now asking us to do whatever we can and they will help, that’s why we have established the bank account – they will help us through funding to do whatever we can but of course with the government’s permission, that’s what we are asking and they are saying no. So, as my sixth sense tell me, their hands are tied.