Woodbrook residents, in August, protested the construction of a police post at Adam Smith Square. – AYANNA KINSALE
PORT of Spain South MP Keith Scotland has re-assured residents there will be no construction at Adam Smith Square on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, at least until further consultations are held with the relevant stakeholders.
Scotland told the stakeholders he would schedule consultations when he returns to the country.
Scotland, speaking briefly with Newsday last Thursday, said no date has yet been fixed for the consultations, but assured they will certainly take place in the near future.
“I am going to reach out to them and subject to the availability of all parties, it will certainly be (scheduled).”
Newsday asked Scotland if he believed the residents had a good chance of successfully preventing the structures from being built.
He replied, “You see, I am trying to get a feel because I gave the residents word that what construction they thought was going on is not actually taking place.
“Currently, there are sheets of galvanise surrounding materials, including sand and metal poles being stored by workers, not to be used for the proposed police post and washroom facilities, but enhancements to the footpaths and the installation of sidewalks on the northern and southern sides of the park where there are currently none.
“I don’t want to say any more but I did give them that undertaking and I have lived up to the undertaking,” Scotland said, adding, however, that “there comes a time when consultations have to stop. Because there were several consultations (already).
“I have heard them. I have met with them and I have acted in good faith.
Among the primary stakeholders are the Woodbrook Community Council, Woodbrook Residents Committee (WRC), the Minisitry of Tourism, and the Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott).
Although no construction has started, residents petitioned and protested to have the proposed plans to build the washrooms and a municipal police post on Adam Smith Square scrapped completely.
In fact, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Camille Robinson-Regis issued a statement last month, saying, “despite having already held five consultations with stakeholders on the Ariapita Avenue and Woodbrook revitalisation works…It is clear that we need to have further consultations as there still seems to be some misunderstandings, particularly in relation to the proposed works for Adam Smith Square.”
She said another meeting would be arranged between Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell, Udecott, MP Scotland, the residents and other stakeholders.
Consultations concerning upgrades and alterations to Ariapita Avenue began around the start of the pandemic in 2020, all of which were held virtually.
Head of the Woodbrook Residents’ Committee Lynette Dolly told Newsday the WRC objected to several of the proposals, particularly with respect to the construction of a police post, washrooms and intentions to block off parts of Ariapita Avenue on specified days and times.
“We are longing to have that (galvanise) structure removed,” she said, adding that the condition of the square should not only be restored but improved.
While residents say they long to live in a safe neighbourhood – one that has long experienced house burglaries, violent robberies, vehicle theft and various other issues – there are more suitable places for it to be erected.
Apart from the potential construction of the toilets and police post, Newsday understands other plans are in place to relay the grass, improve the walkway and for other enhancements to the square. The residents do not object to some of these proposed improvements.
Newsday also spoke with councillor for Woodbrook June Durham who explained her understanding of the immediate and proposed plans.
“They wanted to start the footpaths (and the) pavement on the southern side and eastern side which does not exist there.
“And they have to do proper drainage, so it means under those pavements they will have to put a drain.” This, she said, accounted for the steel and other materials obscured by galvanise at the site.
The footpaths are also scheduled to be restored or enhanced.
“They would have to redo the footpaths because they wanted to have a cobblestone effect from my understanding.”
The grass, she said, has been there for so long that the process to change it will be extensive.
Additionally, Durham said, “Because they’re going to be changing the structure of the drainage around the park, they will have to filter the earth (below) red stones; big stones first, smaller stones, then little stones, sand and then dirt, like how they did at Mandela Park.”
Unrelated upgrade works on the sidewalks of the avenue, being undertaken by Port of Spain City Corporation, from Belle Smythe Street to De Verteuil Street and some other areas nearby, are also under way.