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Magnificent Seven restoration coming
A tour of historic buildings currently in a state of disrepair will be carried out next week, says Minister of Social Integration and Diversity Clifton de Coteau. In a telephone interview on Wednesday, de Coteau told the T&T Guardian a tour of the Magnificent Seven buildings around the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, in addition to the Red House and President’s House, was to be carried out this week, but had to be postponed.
He said the tour would include representatives from his ministry, the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Tourism. In October, de Coteau told the T&T Guardian he would write to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar about the allocation of funds for restoration of the historic buildings.
The development programme budget provided money to the Ministry of Works and Office of the Prime Minister totalling $34.5 million for the continued restoration of Stollmeyer’s Castle and Whitehall and the restoration of Mille Fleurs, Queen’s Royal College and President’s House. De Coteau said then that the restoration money should have been allocated to his ministry.
He said on Wednesday the tour would address concerns such as the need for immediate repairs to Mille Fleurs, which is the most visibly decrepit of the Magnificent Seven buildings. The restoration of Mille Fleurs will be managed by the Urban Development Corporation (Udecott). In an e-mail statement Udecott media manager Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms said public tender for a restoration consultant will begin in the first quarter of 2013. She said the user brief for the project was modified in August 2012.
When the T&T Guardian spoke with Udecott officials in May last year about the project, they said the user brief for Mille Fleurs was being replaced and that proposals would be tendered once that process was complete. For the past two years silent protests have been held in front of Mille Fleurs to urge the Government to act swiftly to restore the building.
The group Citizens for Conservation has been at the forefront of these protests. Earlier this week, one of its members, Christine Millar, in a letter published in the T&T Guardian, said the state of the building was “a disgrace.” “Who and what ministry has been given charge of this dreadful wreck?” she asked.
“There have been countless letters, articles and demonstrations deploring the neglect and destruction of this exquisite old house; all have fallen on deaf ears. Are all members of Parliament who have passed it over the last 20 years totally without sensitivity? Are they all impervious to its lost beauty? Historical architect Rudylynn Roberts, who is a member of the group, says the longer the building remains without proper care, the more expensive restoration will be.
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