‘A salesman’s foolish idea’ says PM to artificial turf at Nelson Mandela Park | Local News

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has responded to the Port of Spain City Corporation’s plans to convert Nelson Mandela Park into a “modern public wellness and sports tourism center”.

The plan calls for the installation of artificial turf to replace the natural turf and costs $ 20,000.

But in a post on social media this morning, Rowley said:

Replacing the natural environment in Mandela Park with artificial turf is a foolish idea of ​​a seller that shouldn’t waste the time or resources of the Port of Spain Corporation.

The government is confident that the company can make a much better use of its time and money and save us all these unnecessary annoyances.

On Saturday, the Epress reported the opinion of former Joint Consultative Council (JCC) President Afra Raymond, who said that some rooms are of such importance that they should only be changed after the greatest care and consideration.

The project is part of the planned revitalization of the capital.

However, some aspects of the plan met with criticism from stakeholders, including the proposal to replace grass with a synthetic playing field known as 3G Astroturf.

Last week, during a consultation, Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez outlined the benefits of the proposed revitalization, including the development of the 3G turf system, which he believes has been developed for intensive use due to its longevity and resilience to the design of the park, to enable increased public use and to host several sporting events.

Former Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing described the artificial turf proposal as a “waste of resources” and said there were more important things that this money could be spent on.

He said the installation of artificial turf, as well as the proposal to privatize the park, marked the beginning of an “all-encompassing attack on the freedom of use” of parks and squares across the capital.

Raymond told the Sunday Express he was unsure of the reasons for the park surface change, “particularly given the maintenance required for these man-made surfaces”.

According to a proposal document sent to the Sunday Express, the project is expected to cost around $ 20 million.

In addition, Raymond said that privatizing the park would limit access for poorer citizens.

The proposal details a model of a private-public partnership (PPP) in which private entities finance the design, construction and maintenance of the facility and a fee is charged to use the facility.

Users would also need to arrange a time to use the facility through an online booking system.

“Privatization and PPP can result in poorer citizens restricting or terminating access to public facilities. “Of course, such an approach is in contrast to a model that relies on paying customers or groups. As far as I know, the private sector party is making the investment for which an acceptable return is undoubtedly part of the agreement. “

However, Raymond said he believed the proposal was unsolicited.

“That means it will be considered in a non-competitive situation.”

He asked Martinez to submit the proposal to the public for review.

He noted that the public was being asked to comment on a proposal they had not seen.

“If there is a suggestion, please post it,” he said. “I understand that PoSCC held a stakeholder consultation on Monday, July 26th, 2021 and asked for final comments by Sunday, August 1st, 2021, with the actual proposal still unpublished. So what should we talk about? Is it a mistake, an oversight, or are officials dull towards us? Is (Port of Spain City Corporation) deliberately hiding this suggestion? “

Raymond added that there had been insufficient consultation on the matter.

“A project of this importance must be widely advertised in order to achieve the greatest possible participation and exchange,” he said. “If the PoSCC has actually decided that these facilities need to be ‘revitalized’, it would be interesting to know on what basis this decision was made.

“Some rooms are so important that they should only be changed with the greatest care and consideration – no hectic, no hectic. Nelson Mandela Park is certainly such a place. “

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