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(PRESS RELEASE) – The group representing the Arts and Cultural Community in St. Lucia- ACCT- has declared that the St. Lucia’s government’s proposed alternative site for relocating the National Cultural Centre and the CDF headquarters away from Barnard Hill is totally unsuitable for a Cultural Complex.
ACCT explained its position to the Minister of Culture, Fortuna Belrose at a meeting last week to discuss the issue.
In a paper presented to the Minister ACCT stated: If Barnard Hill is ideal for a cultural complex, then the alternative site at Choc/ Union being proposed for a Cultural Centre is totally unsuitable. It is a smaller area of land- 1.5 acres compared to the 4.5 acres at Barnard Hill but more critically, it is prone to severe flooding.
As far back as 1999, a Consultant’s Report on the impact of Tropical Storm Debbie (1993) pointed out that this area would always be flooded whenever the adjacent Union River became swollen as a result of stormy weather. There is a more calamitous feature to that site – one that has developed during the last sixteen years.
What was a small pothole that suddenly appeared as these things do, has now mushroomed into a huge pond or pool which keeps on expanding at the same time as its perimeter is also continuing to collapse into itself. The suspicion is that it is a sink hole. In addition to this danger, the site is close to an active quarry and quarry dust is a menace to sensitive electronic equipment. It is simply not the place to build a centre for the arts and culture.
Then there is the exorbitant cost of buying that area of land. Based on the current market value of land in the area of the alternative site at Union, it is estimated that the cost of the acquisition of the land for the cultural centre will be in the vicinity of four and a half million dollars.
Why should the Government spend four million dollars to purchase land for a cultural facility when the current cultural centre is on a much larger amount of land which the Government already owns?
That amount of money is more than sufficient to construct a cultural complex along the lines that is being suggested by ACCT for Barnard Hill.