Despite not being able to achieve some of the things that it would have liked to accomplish this year, the Save Camerhogne Park Committee still described 2018 as a “good year” but is now promising to continue the fight in the new year.
The committee was formally incorporated in 2018 as a duly registered organisation.
According to Chairman of the group, Jude Bernard, the incorporation provided an opportunity for the committee to start raising funds and to exercise its rights as a duly recognised non-profit organisation on the island.
“Looking back at the year, it was a good year and I think we were able to keep up the momentum, we were able to have a lot of activities and with the help of the media, we were able to keep the park in the minds of Grenadians and we continue to galvanise a lot of support”, said Bernard in an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper at a recent appreciation get together for the media at Camerhogne Park.
“We launched our bumper sticker campaign, we were not able to get off the ground as we would like but we are determined to re-launch it again in the New Year and we are confident that we would be able to get it up and running”, he added.
The Save Camerhogne Park Committee was formed against the backdrop of widespread reports in the country that the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government had entered into an agreement with a foreign investor to use the park for a hotel.
Bernard also told this newspaper that 2018 was the year the committee had planned to work along with the Ministry of Tourism in maintaining the park and it was rather disappointed that this was not achieved.
“We were disappointed that after months of waiting, we received words in the negative in terms of our approach to the government via the Ministry of Tourism to collaborate with them in terms of enhancing the park and generally doing things for the park.
“Although, it seems as though, while they didn’t accede to our request to work with us, they have done some of the things that we told them needed to be done, so I must give them credit.
“We saw the benches being repaired and painted – finally after many, many years of neglect. So we’re happy about the park. It’s all about the park, it’s not about what we can do or whoever can do for the park, it’s a plus and we’re happy that in spite of not expressing the desire to work with us, the ministry has taken up some of the things that we would have loved to do, that we would not have been able to do without their co-operation because they are the official custodians of the park.
The Chairman welcomed the positive turnaround with the park but could not say if the committee has hit mid-ground in securing the park.
Bernard said: “I am not 100% sure. We heard towards the end of the year about the eminent start of the phase two of Silver Sands Project. The investor did indicate that he was no longer interested in the area occupied by the park but he is an investor, he is not the leader of our country – the park doesn’t belong to him but it was disappointing to hear that our Prime Minister aside from all the data and everything else chose to register his view that the park shouldn’t remain a park.
“However, the Prime Minister, once he recognises that his view is a minority view, everybody is entitled to their views, sometimes when we are in leadership position, it’s considered prudent to reserve our opinion about national issues of different nature. The Prime Minister chose to exercise his right as any other Grenadian to express his opinion that he doesn’t think that the park, should remain as a park and he made statements of the fact that they could have had their park somewhere else, which to me indicates that he doesn’t see himself together with other Grenadians as owners of the park.
“…Three years ago, it was 14% of the population who felt that the park should go in favour of hotels, today I think it would be less than 10%, so he is not on the right side of the statistics and once he realises that his view is the minority view and his view should not be considered as policy, that’s fine, he can express it but we would hope that by now, he would have come around,” he stated.
Deputy Chair of the Committee, George Mason stated that it is becoming more and more clear that the park is definitely appreciated by the people for their own use.
He quoted someone as telling him that it seems as though people are now using the park more than ever before because anytime they travel around the place it is always occupied.
“…This is what we have been saying – this is the park for the Grenadian people to say that we can enjoy it as the only green space around”, Mason said.
He went on: “So, I would like to join the Chairman by saying next year, we hope to make it more visible, more in your face and also try to make the authorities, even the Prime Minister realise that he is on the wrong side of history, the majority of Grenadians are in support of this place and the investor’s decision to back off is a clear indication that even he is aware of the Grenadians and our desire generally to use this place for recreation and whatever else”.
Another Committee member, Ray Roberts pointed out that the park served the public well during the just-ended Christmas season.
Roberts said: “I thought for 2018, the young people in particular have demonstrated in no uncertain ways that there is no other place in South St. George and perhaps across Grenada where they can recreate, find time to engage each other without any sense of distraction. I think mothers and fathers, if you come here during the build up to the Christmas, there was, I would say close to about 3000 primary school, pre-primary students using the park and I don’t think we could find another place.
“Where we going to put it ( the relocated park)? By Umbrellas? Hate to say it, that’s where people drink rum and have another kind of pleasure, so I would want to say to the government and to people of Grenada, we need to have stages of development. Camerhogne Park (is) the right place where our young people can grow and enjoy it and for our senior citizens, it is the ideal tonic for whatever they desire in their spare time,” he added.