Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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No $$ in budget for ‘The next Ariapita Avenue’
A video on the planned million dollar Ariapita Avenue upgrade which was leaked by a contracted animator with the Tourism Development Company (TDC) had to be pulled from the Internet. TDC chairman Brian Frontin confirmed this on Friday. “The particular animator had to retract it from social media because he made an error,” Frontin said.
The 4.33-minute video called “The next Ariapita Avenue” circulated on social networking sites last week. There was a mixture of reviews. The video showed a proposed re-design of the local entertainment hub. Trees on the sidewalks of the popular liming strip, fancy arches, lights, an underground parking facility at Adam Smith Square, a new-look square with pathways and gazebos were among some of the features shown.
When contacted to get specifics on the plan, Frontin instead said, “Do you know that is one of our animation providers’ error? “In fact, there is no project of that nature being implemented.” He said it was not even TDC’s video. Frontin said it was a project proposal which was discussed with select stakeholders in Woodbrook last year. He said it was a plan that was being considered at a project concept level, but he emphasised there was no project that was included in the budget “or anything like that.”
He said, “That is a private project proposal that has absolutely nothing to do in the public domain at this time. “So a lot of people are getting carried away.” However, he said there was an Ariapita Avenue/Port-of-Spain Improvement Plan. TDC acting CEO Yolande Selman said the contractor had no right divulging the content and had since apologised. She said the plan was merely at the developmental stage and not on TDC’s cards at the moment in terms of going forward.
“The plan is at this time part of the whole tourism product of the city of Port-of-Spain. “What is very important is that it is developmental.” She said the animation was part of TDC’s presentation tool designed to show a project.
Lee Sing: A mental institution sorely needed instead
Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing says he does not welcome such a proposed plan. He said he believed Cabinet had approved more than $100 million for a plan to uplift the area. He said he held talks with former tourism minister Rupert Griffith and a full presentation was shown. Lee Sing said he was not aware if Woodbrook residents who were the dominant group were consulted on the plan and if they were prepared to change their neighbourhood according to the plan. “I think the country has got to prioritise,” he said.
He said, “If the Government wishes to establish that kind of a centre then they should go down to the MovieTowne area where they have land and develop it further, where that kind of entertainment will not disrupt and impact on the lives of residents.” Lee Sing said the issues concerning the well-being of the city had much to do with available funds. He said a mental institution was sorely needed instead.
He said the only people who would benefit from the re-design were those who owned “watering holes” on the avenue. “The only reason why Ariapita Avenue has become the hub of watering holes has to do with the fact that the Government has failed to re-engineer the central business district,” he said. Earlier this year at a monthly statutory meeting, Lee Sing proposed that a mental hospital should be built instead of uplifting the avenue.
He had said, “I don’t know why we will want to spend $100 million to put up some arches, to dig out the whole of Adam Smith Square and put a car park below it and fancy it up and change the lights across the place...I don’t think the country needs that.”
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