OUTRAGE! Town Hall Meeting Learns Barbados PM Arthur Ordered Waterpark Built On Sensitive Watershed!



A Town Hall Meeting was told last night that Prime Minister Owen Arthur and Mr. Leonard Nurse of (then of the Barbados Ministry of Housing, Lands and the Environment) met privately with the developer of the proposed Caribbean Splash water park – and THE PRIME MINISTER ORDERED THE WATER PARK BUILT ON THE SENSITIVE GRAEME HALL WATERSHED.

A special correspondent files the story…

Embarassment For Developer and Prime Minister At Town Hall Meeting

Last night we attended the Town Hall meeting to hear from the developer of Caribbean Splash. The plan is that his water park is going to be built in the Graeme Hall Watershed on agricultural land close to the ABC highway.

The developer, Matthew Kerins, opened the meeting by telling the 200+ Graeme Hall residents in attendance that he had no choice. He had been told that if he wanted to build a water park in Barbados he must build it there. Later we heard why.

Never mind that every government agency who had read the report was strongly opposed to installing it at Graeme Hall. Never mind that speaker after speaker asked questions that could not be answered by the various consultants that work for Mr. Kerins. It finally came out that Mr. Kerins had met with Mr. Leonard Nurse and the Prime Minister Owen Arthur and been given his marching orders. Which makes one wonder why everyone else is participating in the charade that pretends to debate, study, conduct tests, and expend a lot of energy when in the end it surely seems that this is a ‘done deal’

The Fix Is In – Prime Minister Playing Puppet Master

Apparently the wrong people were sitting on the dais.

Since it appears that Mr. Arthur and Mr. Nurse have made this decision and imposed it on Mr. Kerins then why were they not at the meeting to hear from the people and answer the questions? The Town and Country planner should have been there as well since many questions could not be answered except to say “TCP will have to tell us to do that”.

The meeting started off with a question asking for more details, facts and figures, of the many alternative sites which were said to have been studied. As it turned out, from beginning to end of the meeting that question was never answered.

Pretty pictures were shown by the consultant from Vancouver who builds water parks. Fun will be had by all, it is said, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day of the year when upwards of 5000 people per day will attend (2000 cars, biggest parking lot in Barbados). No gridlock is predicted.

No Plan For Disposal Of Toxic Waste

Vast volumes of brine and chlorine will be produced every day however it was not clear how they would be disposed of. This issue is apparently still under consideration. When an environmentalist mentioned during one question that release of these chemicals into the watershed would kill animals and fish and forever alter the wetlands and the Nature Sanctuary we were assured that there was no possibility of an accident. People who had lived through the recent ‘accidental’ spill –one speaker called it illegal -from the sewage treatment plan were not so sure.

We were told that noise will not be a problem however pointed questions regarding decibel levels could not be answered. We were told, though, that if there is too much noise we should not be opposed to screaming kids having fun.

We were told that since Mr. Kerins, an American with family ties in Barbados, has never suffered a failure in his business plans – he is a developer- he has seen no need to create an exit plan. Private estimates from people who are admittedly not experts in this area suggest that it would cost upwards of $8,000,000 dollars to demolish this park, sanitize the soil, and put in place all of the needed environmental protections if the business does not work out and the developer walks away.

Dr. Duguid – A Good Man Stuck In A Bad Place… or a Weak Man?

Dr. Duguid, the stalwart government representative for the riding was out in full force. Although he did not say so during the meeting he continues to privately confirm that he is opposed to this placement of the park. He was clearly not at the meeting between Matthew Kerins and the Prime Minister though..

The process from here forward assures the residents of Graeme Hall that the questions they have raised, especially those not yet answered, will be given careful consideration by Town and Country Planning once the developer submits a report of what issues were raised last night.

No Answers At Meeting – Government & Developer Continue To Hide Reports

The consultant from Barbados regularly answered a question with nothing but an assurance that an important issue, not yet studied, would be carefully addressed once approval from TCP is given. No assurances were given that any of us will ever see the next version of the plan. A request that all further documents be published on the internet was met with silence. We left thinking that this water park is going to be built at Graeme Hall and we are supposed to keep our fingers crossed that the vague promises will be carried out, that the questions which were not answered will be addressed, that the promised scientific studies will be undertaken, and, in the end we will be happy that the water park is close to where we live.

Why should we be concerned?

Previous BFP Water Park Articles – Link here.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business, Environment, Island Life, Offshore Investments, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

42 responses to “OUTRAGE! Town Hall Meeting Learns Barbados PM Arthur Ordered Waterpark Built On Sensitive Watershed!

  1. BFP

    A Reader Writes…


    I am very pleased to read your prompt and astonishingly detailed reporting on the abovementioned water park proposal.

    I attended the townhall meeting last evening at which the developers met with considerable hostility from a wide variety of local interests.

    Your website provides a useful contribution to the debate. Keep up the good work.


    (Name witheld by request)

    PS: How can you make your site better known to the Barbados public? Do you call into the radio hot lines? How about sponsored ads in the papers?

  2. West Side Davie

    De PM did this in some secrect meeting? Doctor duguid what you say?

  3. Anonymous

    How could Owen Arthur do this to us? Disgusting.

  4. John

    Guess he doesn’t know the difference between transparent and see through.

  5. Jane

    It is time for a Town Hall meeting at which the PM, Mr. Nurse and whoever directed these people to this site are present to answer to the concerned residents and citizens of Barbados for the outrage they have caused by this absurdity.

  6. There was a lot of discussion about this on Brasstacks this morning.

    I think this is more a comedy of errors than a deliberate attempt by the PM to mandate where the project should be located.

    It would be interesting to hear his side which can be communicated through Dr. Duguid.

    Good to see so many Bajans motivated to try to save the environment.

  7. titilayo

    Interesting and saddening article. But there’s a correction to be made to the Prime Minister’s name in the paragraph beginning “Never mind that every…” and the one beginning “Since it appears that…”

    Just a heads up.

  8. BFP

    Thanks Titilayo… that’s what happens when you write at 3am after working a full day at the regular job!

  9. BFP

    Hi Hants

    After hearing Mr. Kerins both formally and afterwards, I can assure you there is no “comedy of errors”, “mistake” or “misunderstanding”. Kerins was told that Graeme Hall was the only acceptable place – straight to his face by Owen Arthur.

    The obvious next questions are “Why?” and “To whom the benefit?”

  10. BFP

    A BFP Reader writes…

    I attended the July 7 meeting at Christchurch parish hall and every one of the sixty of so people there are appalled that the project has got this far. We were told that Splash Inc did not pick Graeme Hall, it was given to them by “Government”.

    It was also made clear that the Ministry of Agriculture, whose land would be leased to the company, did not endorse the scheme, but that the Min. of Planning & Development overruled them. No good reason has been put forward why Min of Planning and Dev is flying in the face of all the expert opinions that it would be a disastrous site.

    This sounds very odd if not fishy. What is more, it will cheapen the image of Barbados as a “classy” destination to all passing from the airport. Even if the “powers that be” have given the project their blessing, for whatever good reasons, they must rethink the
    detrimental effect it would have on the island’s image to have a 60 ft waterslide plus all the lights and music etc, right on the main highway!



  11. No approval has been granted to the developers for the Splash Water Park at Graeme Hall. The process of having the Town Hall meeting is part of the process of getting an outline approval for the project.

    It is incorrect and malicious for anyone to even suggest that this approval has already been given by anyone. That is not true and is a matter of record. We were also at that meeting and although the developer said that after looking at various sites which were found to be unsuitable it was suggested that he should look at this site at Graeme Hall.

    At no time in the meeting did the developer or any of his people say that he was ordered by anyone to build the park there. This is absolutely false and we would suggest to Barbados Free Press that they should amend their post to reflect this.

    At no time did the developer make mention of the Prime Minister by name or otherwise. That would be truly a newsworthy event and would have been carried by all the local media.

    It has not been on the airwaves because it did not happen.

    It is no secret that two of our MP’s Dr. Duguid and Mr. Edghill have come out against the park at this location and have given very clear and bold statements to the press saying that another site should be found which is not so close to such a heavily populated area. That is their right and privilege as individuals and Members of Parliament.

    What was very clear from the meeting is that the residents do not want it at that location and may be an arrogant developer should pack up his bags and move to another island.

  12. West Side Davie

    Question for Labourparty:

    Did Mr. Kerins meet with the Prime Minister and Mr. Nurse as the BFP says?

  13. West Side Davie

    Why won’t the government and the developer publish all the reports on the internet?

  14. Comment Maker

    There was a social afterwards. Was something said there BFP? How is bfp able to name who was at a meeting with the PM? How does BFP know there was a meeting?

    Good question Westside, did Mr. Kerins meet with the PM and Mr. Nurse?

    Labourparty is this a yes or a no? Can you confirm that the meeting took place or did not take place?

  15. Pingback: Barbados Free Press » Blog Archive » Official BLP Blog Declares “Arrogant” Water Park Developer “Should Pack Up His Bags And Move To Another Island.”

  16. Comment Maker

    Just a short note I am not the “Comment Maker” above.

    Oh well they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery 🙂

  17. Concerned resident

    As a conncerned resident and citizen of this country I am totally opposed to the waterpark being sited at the proposed Graeme Hall location. However I believe that Mr. Lionel Nurse is a public servant (Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Housing Lands & Environmant) and it really is not fair to cast aspersions on his character and motives.

    As a public servant it would be his job to assist a potential foreign investor such as Mr. Kerins. The investor still has to go through the planning process and he is finding that he has been badly advised.

    As a public servant Mr. Nurse does not have the luxury of being able to respond to the aspersions cast against him. If someone has evidence that Mr. Nurse has acted improperly then let’s hear about it.

    However The Pime Minister and elected parliamentarions on all sides are fair game and well capable of responding to attacks so feel free to give them as much licks as possible. We all know where the buck stops and it will be interesting to hear the position of the Prime Minister and Minsiter Elizabeth Thompson with regard to the proposed waterpark. We would especially like to hear from Minister Thompson sionce her ministry is responsible for the environment and the proposed site of the waterpark will be an ecological disaster for the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

  18. BFP

    Concerned resident said…

    “As a public servant Mr. Nurse does not have the luxury of being able to respond to the aspersions cast against him. If someone has evidence that Mr. Nurse has acted improperly then let’s hear about it.”

    I don’t think anybody has said that Mr. Nurse acted improperly.

    But we have no doubt that if he was sitting in a room with the Prime Minister, he would do as he was told.

    Once again, this is something that the PM could probably clear up in a jiffy…

    So, Mr. Prime Minister… what is the story?


  19. Jane

    “We all know where the buck stops” and in case we do not, it stops at the PM who is the Minister responsible for Town Planning and he has the last say in these matters. Imagine, one man with the last say for something as important as this. Unwise!!!

  20. ross

    I attended the meeting and I heard the developer say that they had been directed to the Graeme Hall site by the Government. Who in Government had the power to do such a thing? If it was not the PM or Mr. Nurse, then who was it?

    Surely if you are a prospective investor and the Government directs you to a site you must have some expectation that you will get the relevant permission for that particular site. Is that so difficult to deduce?

    I have no problem with a water park but not at Graeme Hall. We still do not know what other sites were considered and why Graeme Hall was chosen by the Government as the best one.

  21. Islandgirl

    Lots of peoples at the meeting an after when de rum was be passed. I hear wat I hear. peoples betta be too careful they say things not said when we all hear wat be heard. It all be like bfp say.

  22. While it was made quite clear at both meetings at Christchurch parish hall that Outline Planning Approval had not yet been granted, it was made equally clear that “the powers that be” had given the Graeme Hall location their blessing, and that the Town Hall meeting was merely going through the required motions necessary for the outline approval to be granted as it was effectively a “done deal.”

    The abrasive Mathew Kerins claims to have invested “two million dollars of my hard-earned money” on this project. It would be interesting to see this itemised. It would be no surprise to see that a couple hundred thousand dollars had been spent on technical surveys and there was a large proportion unexplained which might have gone to help “persuade” decision makers. It is naive to think this does not happen in business life. It is our duty and right to see it did not happen here.

    More frightening was Mr Kerin’s threat that government cannot back out of the deal unless they can prove the project is not viable. There was an outcry at the meeting when he said this.

  23. Pingback: Barbados Free Press » Blog Archive » Caribbean Splash Waterpark Developer Says Barbados Government “Cannot Back Out Of The Deal…”

  24. West Side Davie

    Mr. Kerins sounds like a man who has a written agreement with the Government of Barbados.

    Does he have a signed memorandum of understanding with GoB?

  25. The Government can back out of any deal with anybody.

    There may be legal and financial consequences but they can tell Mr.Kerins to “take his steel beam and go”.

    The Graeme hall environment must be protected.

  26. BajanGeorge

    Prior assurance of some sort MUST have been given to Kerins. Otherwise he never would have engaged the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment.

    Town and Country Planning MUST have approved the preliminary concept of a Waterpark, otherwise they would not have asked Kerins to develop an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the site.

  27. titilayo

    Town and Country Planning MUST have approved the preliminary concept of a Waterpark, otherwise they would not have asked Kerins to develop an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the site.

    I don’t think this is the case. From what I’ve read, the Impact Assessments are part of the process of obtaining the outline approval from Town Planning, which I gather is sort of an approval in principle. The developer is then supposed to provided the full details of the project (including perhaps more detailed impact assessments?) in order to get a full approval. So it would seem that the preliminary concept is not yet approved by Town Planning.

    Maybe the fact that they asked for Environmental and Social Impact Assessments for just an outline approval says something about how they regard the project — someone more familiar with the Town Planning process could probably say whether requiring studies for that level of approval is the norm or not.

  28. BFP

    This will probably turn out alright – thanks to citizens who refuse to be bulldozed anymore.

    But all the questions still remain…

    What was said at the meeting with Kerins, Nurse and the Prime Minister?

    What assurances was Caribbean Splash given?

    Was there a memorandum of understanding or any sort of written agreement to date between Kerins and the Government of Barbados? What does it say? Who signed it?

    Why the big secrecy regarding the supposedly “public” reports? Why are the reports not available on the internet? Only one copy in the library, threats of copyright violation when a citizen wants to photocopy a report to take home to read or research, and citizens prevented from obtaining a copy to bring to the “town hall” meeting.

    and on and on and on….


  29. I doubt Mr Kerins ever got a written Memorandum of Understanding. Deals like this are done with a nod and a wink.There is a prescribed detailed procedure that has to be followed, and Outline Approval is only granted after all the required steps have been taken. But from the time of the nod and the wink, these are only tedious formalities.

    But for the politicians to insist there could be no “done deal” is either naive or hypocritical. They cannot pretend that when a person in high office says “OK, looks good to me. Go ahead with the proper application procedure, but don’t worry…” it is as good as done.

    At the meeting of concerned reseidents prior to the actual Town Hall meeting, it came out that the project had received blessing from “the powers that be” or “those in the highest authority.” You don’t need to call names in such a case. This prompted one of those at the meeting to say “Good Lord, then we are just wasting our time!”

    Let us admit this is a likely scenario and cut out the sanctimonious hypocrisy that it could not happen.

  30. william duguid

    First let me say that in order for some one buy or even lease land belonging to the people and government of Barbados it must be approved by Parliament. No approval for this has come to parliament.
    Please do not jump to conclusions that because some one shows an interest and applies for approval that it will be granted. There are other developments in the past that we have said no to. This will not be the first.

  31. BajanGeorge

    I believe it is not responsible for a government agency to require an expensive Environmental and Social Assessment from a developer unless government gives some assurance to the developer that the project concept is generally consistent with permitted land use. The land for the proposed water park is in an Urban Corridor, which in fact constitutes misguided permission for high density commercial use. It’s the reason why they told Kerins to go ahead with the Assessment. This isn’t about the water park, I think it’s about Town and Country not knowing how to apply sound land use principles.

  32. I think mistakes are made when the “numbers” in a proposal look good. A good sales pitch can sometimes make people think about the downside.

    For example.

    400,000 people per year at say $20 per person is $8 million.
    That is 10 times more than a food crop. Get my drift.

    Somebody saw the $8 million and forgot the Swamp.

    Trust me. there will be no waterpark at Graeme Hall but I am sure this “fiasco” will put pressure on the powers that be to find another viable spot.

  33. BFP

    Dr. Duguid said…

    “There are other developments in the past that we have said no to. This will not be the first.”

    Do you mean that Doc? Is this an indication that the decision will be “no” or are we taking it the wrong way?

  34. John

    Any land to be taken out of agriculture which exceeds 2 acres must be referred to the Minister responsible for Town Planning.

    It is almost as if the Minister’s vision at the time substitutes for a properly approved Physical Development Plan as required by law.

    What we have is a transparent process proscribed by law, being replaced by one that is patentlty see through.

    How an individual would want to have him or herself put into this situation and be exposed to accusation and innuendo is beyond me.

  35. I know a farmer who tried to get part of his land approved for housing and he was turned down.

    I have to believe that when “Agricultural” plantations are approved for Golf courses and luxury houses, there is something that makes plantation land different from small farmer’s land.

    The upside to this is Golf courses can be changed back to Agricultural land so Golf courses can be considered a way of preserving the land for future Agricultural use.

  36. Leigh Bourne

    Has anyone checked out Mr Kerins ? Or Splash Inc ? Some antecedence would be very useful.

  37. John


    Take a look at a sugar plantation like Drax Hall on google earth then take a look at Westmoreland or Sany Lane.

    There is a big, big difference.

  38. Crusty

    BajanGeorge says:

    Town and Country Planning MUST have approved the preliminary concept of a Waterpark, otherwise they would not have asked Kerins to develop an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the site.


    The land for the proposed water park is in an Urban Corridor, which in fact constitutes misguided permission for high density commercial use.

    It is helpful to understand the planning process. Quoting from page 4
    of the “Application for Permission to Develop Land – Revised 2001” :

    [begin quote]

    Directions to Applicants:

    4. Where an applicant so desires, he may make an outline application
    for permission to erect any building reserving for the subsequent
    approval of the Chief Town Planner on a further application any
    matters relating to the siting, design or external appearance of the
    building, or the layout of the land or the means of access thereto.
    An outline application need not be accompanied by the plans or
    drawings required by paragraphs 3(a) and (b).

    [end quote]

    There is NO requirement for prior approval by Town and Country
    Planning BEFORE undertaking investigatory actions.

    My involvement with Town and Country Planning has been limited
    to small private house developments, in which the department has
    been thoroughly professional. I am not aware of the requirements
    they might place on larger developments for Environmental and
    Social Impact Assessment.

    It was evident from the meeting that the presenters had NOT done
    their homework. The details presented were qualitative, not
    quantitative, and thus subject to wide differences in opinion. The
    requirement for townhall meetings is neither original nor unique to
    Barbados. In many other jurisdictions there are similar processes and
    such meetings have often been hostile to the development proposal.
    To allay such potential hostility, the developer needs much more
    thorough preparation and detail than was presented last Monday

    On the subject of the Urban Corridor, where is it said that ALL land
    within the corridor must be covered in buildings? Compared with
    other countries and cultures, Barbados lacks public park land in the
    built-up areas. Green space is an essential component of modern,
    enlightened development. Regrettably, profit seeking developers have
    a natural incentive to minimise non-revenue producing green space.
    That incentive can be countered by “reasonable” direction from
    government but green space comes with an up-front cost of reduced
    property tax revenue and fewer employment opportunities on site.
    Surrounding properties might benefit from the existence of the green
    space, and quality of life for local residents might also be improved or
    at least not diminished.

    The land surrounding Graeme Hall Swamp represents a superb
    opportunity to develop a public park in the Urban Corridor. The closest
    equivalent is The Savannah, an area with public access severely
    limited by the race-track. Queen’s Park and King George V Park are
    also examples. What other public parks are within walking distance of
    densely populated zones? Such public spaces need to be distributed
    throughout the urban area to be best enjoyed. The East Coast is a long
    way to go for an evening walk.

    Perhaps some of the approximately 50 percent of Barbadians now
    considered overweight or obese would benefit from a nearby place to
    walk that is not a roadway lacking sidewalks.

  39. Velzo

    What is Duguid talking about? Most leases come to parliament years after they are entered into. There are all kinds of people renting government property whose activities have never been approved by parliament. For a parliamentarian not to know this is unforgivable.

    Everything tells me that there was a plan water project for this hatched many, many years ago. Thank God we have this forum even if it is just to let them know that we can see their hand in the cookie jar…

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