The state followed the law in acquiring the properties in Bentick Square, Kingstown, that have been demolished to make way for the construction of storage facilities to serve the Laboratory and related specialized services, at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).
According to Senator Julian Francis, Minister of Urban Development, Energy, Airports, Seaports, Grenadines Affairs and Local Government, the controversy that arose as a result of claims made by relatives of the owner(s) of one of the structures demolished, was “manufactured.”
Third and fourth generations always have questions, Francis quipped.
“The administration has dealt with all the legal aspects of the acquisition and the law was followed,” Francis said on radio on February 21.
The issue was made public when a media entity reported that at least one of the families had indicated that they were not aware that the building which belonged to the family for generations, had been acquired by the government and was now being demolished.
They further contended that they have been paying property tax, with the most recent payment having been made this month (February).
Minister of Health, St Clair ‘Jimmy’ Prince, had said during the 2021 Budget debate that the buildings had been acquired, earmarked for demolition, and that storage facilities were going to be constructed on the site.
On a related development, Francis said that the five buildings along the lower portion of Tyrell Street (Back Street), beginning with the building adjacent to the Co-op Gas Station down to the ambulance entrance at the MCMH, were also going to be demolished.
“The Ministry of National Mobilization had already done its work – that is to say that they have already gathered the names of the individuals and last Wednesday (February 17), the details were finalized as to how they would be dealt with,” Francis said.
One of those buildings housed the Melborne Artisans Mas tent for the last ten years or so.
According to Francis, bids have been received for the demolition works to be undertaken.
He noted that no definite use has been identified for the site just yet, but it will be converted for parking in the meantime.
The idea, he said, in essence, was to clean up the area and provide for space under the hospital expansion project.