November 19th 2015 less than two month away, would mark one year since the commencement of remedial work to upgrade Alston George Park in Victoria St. Mark’s; a project former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Veda Bruno Victor said would have been completed within three months.
Nine months later, the people of St. Mark’s are basically left in limbo, the contractors failed to deliver on their promise, and the authorities including those responsible for offering the early completion dates seem to have reneged on their promise and with it, any definite word on where this project is heading.
The present dilemma ongoing at the Alston George playing field, the parish’s major sporting facility, is of grave concern not only to schools and sporting organizations but the entire population; having been deprived of part of the social component that so effectively distinguishes the people of Grenada’s smallest parish.
It would seem that they have lost the luxury of looking at their future stars of the parish on the tracks from the various school sports; on the cricket field and most importantly on the football field.
In February of 2015, the very same month the work should have being completed, the project’s engineer Nigel Noel told a team of persons including Parliamentary Representative for the Parish Hon. Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen that his team was in the process of putting an aggressive plan in place for the final phase of the project. He further gave the assurance that the project would have been completed in time for the 2015 GFA season that started sometime in May. For those who have been following the 2015 GFA tournament it is nearing completion and chances of seeing any football activity on the Alston George playing field; including the soon to commence Secondary School Football Competition, is virtually nil. It is also highly likely that cricketers in the parish would suffer the same fate in the upcoming cricket season.
The big question is, where did we go wrong and who is to be blamed for the predicament that the people of St. Mark’s now finds themselves in? Shouldn’t someone be held accountable?
Worthy of note is that the company that was tasked with the responsibility of handling the work on the Alston George Park was the same company which worked on the Victoria Park in St Andrew’s, where a number of questions regarding the quality of work done on that site were raised. Assuming there is any merit in those allegations, why then was that company credited with a second project of similar standing. Shouldn’t those responsible for making such decisions on behalf of the St. Mark’s people be held accountable?
Where are we now, with the Alston George Park? The talk around is that government has spent in excess of $300,000.00 on that project and after nine months of work on what the people of Victoria referred to as an elevated land fill depositing large uncontrollable volumes of water unto neighbors’ properties, nothing else has happened. The lush green grass for which the park is well known has disappeared, a deposit of gravel has been placed on the surface, and to add insult to injury, a large quantity of tegwa soil was used on the surface as top soil to attract the growth of grass.
In the face of all this, it was said that only recently, Minister of State in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs, Senator Winston Garraway was heard saying that work is ongoing and the project is nearing completion. On the contrary Coordinator of Sports in the same ministry Conrad Francis alluded to the fact that the ministry was having some issues with the contractors. He could not give a time for completion, only to say that they hope it would be done before the end of the year.
Meanwhile in a telephone conversation with Senator Garraway just before press on Tuesday, he said the real issue facing the Alston George playing field is unavailability of a grader to complete the project. The senator said presently there is only one grader on the Island that is privately owned and availability when needed has been a serious challenge.
He however gave the assurance that the Parliamentary Representative for the area is aware of the situation and together with the Ministry of Sports they are doing all in their powers to get that park ready.
Nevertheless it is the hope of the people of Victoria and St. Mark’s, that government moves soonest to arrest the situation, and hold someone accountable for what seems to be a waste and blatant disregard for taxpayers money.