Caribbean Splash Waterpark Developer Kerins – Ugly American, Or Just Losing It?


Hello folks,

We’ve been meaning to say something about that terribly insulting advert last week by Caribbean Splash Water Park developer Mathew Kerins, and we’ve been a little busy with our day jobs.

Fortunately, Peter Simmons sent us the following open letter to Mr. Kerins, which says about 75% of what we were thinking. We’ll get to the other 25% as soon as we can, but meanwhile, here is Mr. Simmon’s open letter…

Mr Kerins, Your Slip Is Showing

Mr Matthew Kerins who wants to build something called Caribbean Splash Water Park adjacent to the Errol Barrow roundabout at Graeme Hall, seems to be a very angry man. 

Confronted by a barrage of cogent criticism and sustained opposition from residents and the wider public culminating in a petition to the Chief Town Planner, signed by over 420 residents who in its place, are proposing a National Park, he blew his cool. Mr. Kerins anger is perhaps understandable.  It is alleged that he has already spent almost BDS4million on an Environmental and Social Impact Study, has laid out other fees and has not even received outline planning permission. 

Sadly, his anger inspired him to place a large paid advertisement in the Advocate of October 11th and 12th captioned “LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD.”  All Barbadians should read this work of a kamikaze pilot.

He sets the tone for his polemic in the opening paragraph which states:” As my grandmother Sissy once said, if you want to catch snakes in a cane-field, then light a fire.” 

My initial reaction was how dreadfully insensitive this American man who wants to do business in our country can be towards loyal sons and daughters of this fair land guilty of nothing more than exercising their inalienable constitutional rights. However, since I have to ensure that my response remains publishable, I restrict myself to the following comment.  If the grandmother is still alive she should put young Matthew across her knees, his capacious frame notwithstanding, administer the rod of correction for his indiscretions and endeavour to bring him to some semblance of Christian understanding, if not full redemption.

His rave continues with an accusation against the NATION newspaper of “media manipulation” because he says, 99 per cent of every article it prints about the water park is “decidedly negative.”  I am sure that the NATION will defend itself. 

Let me say to Mr. Kerins, however, that if his claim is factual then the NATION may only be reflecting the strong national consensus and he should know precisely how to proceed. I find his assertion that he “did not come to Barbados to fight or be a punching bug ’{bag?}most instructive.  I ask you, Mr. Kerins:  Did you come here expecting the docile natives to genuflect in your awesome presence and say “go ahead, massa, all Barbadians are behind you, cane-field snakes et al.” 

Barbados is indeed not what Mr. Kerins oxymoronically termed “an elitist democracy.”  It is a robust democracy where, the citizens cherish certain fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to freely and fearlessly express ourselves. It is in this spirit that we respected your right to bring an idea here and canvass it.  In the same spirit, the residents made it pellucidly clear at your church hall meeting and through the media that even if
Barbados wants a water-park, Graeme Hall is the most inappropriate location imaginable.    
We were strident, but always civil. Your reaction has been one of petulance and ugly fretfulness, culminating in your paid advertisement pregnant with pejoratives, including the following: “Heaven help us all if you and your cabal are forced to look down and watch Bajan families enjoying themselves at the water-park or perhaps it would be the appropriate penance for this friendly committee”. 

Mr. Kerins, as one of the members of the Friends of Graeme Hall Committee, I wish to leave you in no doubt that to categorize us as “a cabal,” is deeply, crudely and unpardonably offensive. It is the language of the jungle.

My Funk and Wagnalls dictionary (American) describes the noun “cabal” as: (1) a number of persons secretly united for some private purpose. (2) an intrigue; plot. (3) a group working together for some sinister or underhand purpose.(4) a gang suggesting criminal intent or blind  obedience of underlings to a leader.(5) a gang of hoodlums. 

Mr. Kerins, the context in which a word is used is a central consideration to those familiar with the use of language.  Readers may judge for themselves your intent in this instance. What I find painfully ironic is that ever since your petulant performance at the church hall, one colleague, against my continuing calls for restraint, has referred to him as the ”prototypical ugly American”.  Now, with the benefit of that paid advertisement I may have to reconsider my restraining influence. 

Let me ask Mr. Kerins the following questions:
(1)                Senators Ivan Lynton (BLP) and Frances Chandler (IND) have come out publicly, cogently and persuasively against the water park. Are they too snakes in the cane-   field running from your fire?
(2)                Members of Parliament for the area, Dr Duguid and Mr Edghill, have also taken a strong public position against the water park. Are they too snakes in the cane-field? 
(3)                Have your minders not told you that there are countries here in this region where, based on your published pejoratives, you would be told that we do not do business with your type, please take your bundle and go!
(4)                Have they also not told you that your ad is in bad taste and bad for business, since should you get permission to set up a water-park, you could hardly expect the native snakes in the cane-field to frolic in your waters for a fee, thereby guaranteeing failure. 
(5)                It is laughable that he accuse us of a land grab when we are seeking to use the people’s land for a national park to complement the Nature Sanctuary, and suggests a price of $20 per square foot when he is seeking to lease 17 acres of the same land at a peppercorn rent, 5 acres of which he proposes to take out of agriculture and put into concrete as the largest car park in Barbados to accommodate 2000 motor vehicles?     
(6)                And just as laughable is his advice to Hartley Henry and myself to choose our words more carefully?

In closing, lest you forget, Mr. Kerins, the Prime Minister of Barbados, on the Sunday Brass Tacks program dedicated to the water park issue said that the views of the residents must be heard and will be taken into consideration.  That is why we are confident that as long as there is a God in Heaven we shall, as you gratuitously stated in your advertisement, continue to enjoy our view from the ridge uninterrupted by grotesque carbuncles on the landscape.
Christ Church, Barbados


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

27 responses to “Caribbean Splash Waterpark Developer Kerins – Ugly American, Or Just Losing It?

  1. Edgar

    Well said Mr. Simmons, that Kerin’s letter is an insult to all Bajans.
    I can understand Kerin’s anger as he has spent bds$4,000,000.00 and if what one hears is true has not received permission as yet,Hmmm seems to have been given bad advice as according to Kerins he was told to come Graeme Hall. Kerins claims that he & his family contribute significantly to environmental matters in the US, that being so they have shown others their good hearts. But I can’t help but feel that if a National Park were proposed in Mr. Kerins backyard, he and his family would want to the same legacy for their community.

    The fiasco at Graeme Hall is not entirely Kerins fault. Perhaps his advisers can revisit the issue and indentify a more appropiate locationfor Kerins’ water park project.

  2. Green!

    What has always intrigued me
    is Kerins’ statement that
    “The Government cannot back down”.

    Is that a loaded statement – or what?!

    Might Mr. Kerins be due a refund?

  3. Rumplestilskin

    Says he spent $4million…yeah …okay….musse an expensive lawyer and architect.

    As for the waterpark:

    Apart from a siuation where even a drunk half-wit should realise the unsuitability of the area for the purpose requested and the adverse impact therein, another concern is as follows:

    -whether the land title would pass to the developer, whether lease or freehold AND whether a change of use could take place in the future, to for example, Condo’s.

    Thus, if (when?) the water-park failed (or just because), could the developer then convert the area for Condo’s and make a whopping profit after a relatively short time (few years).

    Thus, from cheap agricultural land, to Condo’s via a temporary vehicle?

    Could that ever happen??? Who owns the land now. Does Government?

    These are all questions I am asking in my ignorance of the situation, I need to be enlightened.

    A final question is:

    – if the developer is so enthusiastic about a water park here, there are plenty of other areas to place it…so why does the developer not relocate his plan?

    Bajans do drive, tourists get coaches/taxis… I do not buy the ‘location’ argument for this one….not for an ‘all-day’ recreation park.

  4. Environmentalist


    The land belongs to the Citizens of Barbados and is vested in the BADMC by Government.

    You ask ” if the developer is so enthusiastic about a water park here, there are plenty of other areas to place it…so why does the developer not relocate his plan?” Well the answer is right there in their own words in the EIA.

    I recently had a chance to see the secret document and it makes very interseting reading when it come to site selection (page 7, 3.1 of EIA). It goes a long way in explaining in their own words why their site selection options are so limited. There were 10 criteria used for site selection and I will not list all but it covered things like:
    Size of property
    Distance from coastline

    The interesting one however is luck number 9 – OWNERSHIP. Interestingly it is not just listed but there is some elaboration on this point. Here is a direct quote from the developer’s EIA:

    “The developer also preffferred to consider properties OWNED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF BARBADOS which would provide the opportunity for entering into a lease agreement for the use of the land. This is due to the fact that PURCHASING PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY in the coastal region at current market prices would make the project too costly for implementation.

    When I read this yesterday it floored me.

    This “ownership” criteria goes a long way in explaining why the Graeme Hall site was selected. “Ownership” is in fact the most important criteria. Based on this criteria private land would not have even entered the equation since as they say “PURCHASING PRIVATELY OWNED PROPERTY in the coastal region at current market prices would make the project too costly for implementation.” This being the case do you think they even looked at private land?

    So if not at Graeme Hall how many other suitable Government owned sites are there?

    Hope this information is helpful.

  5. Gabby, we need a song for this fiasco…

  6. Green!

    I like the scenario whereby the project is allowed to fail,
    then a change in land usage is.. ahh… ‘facilitated’..
    and ..oh dear, look whuh gone en happen – Condo’s!

    heh heh heh..
    DOES THIS sound familiar?

    Gosh,NO, not at all!

  7. Hants

    The fact that this proposal even got this far is troubling.
    It seems that some people would accept Barbados becoming a Concrete jungle with very little concern for the environment.
    Graeme Hall Swamp should be protected.

  8. The Mighty Rabby

    @ Barbados in Focus

    You call for a song? Here goes…

    Bajan Water Park Blues © (work in progress)

    Kerins, Kerins tek yuh money and go
    Nasty water, traffic jams and so,
    Nuff Nuff tourists, spending money, yes,
    but not if it gine mash up me turtle nest! Wuhloss!

    Kerins, Kerins, tek yuh money and get,
    Out we island, you cyant buy we respek,
    Throw yuh fat a** weight bout’ here
    We gine block yuh everywhere,
    Yuh talk bout we is snakes in grass,
    So we gine bite yuh up in yuh ras,
    Kerins, boy, yuh bes’ had cancell dah cheque! Wuhloss!

    Yuh come tuh mash up de peoples land,
    We aint gine let dis get outta hand,
    that patch o’ swamp is de people ark,
    So watch we mek it into we greatest National Park! Wuhloss!

    Kerins, Kerins, yuh aint gone home yet?
    Man, tek yuh bundle back on tuh yuh private jet,
    We gine fight you tooth and nail,
    Yuh gine hear we bawl and wail,
    WE gine keep dah piece fuh we,
    build wid pride and industry,
    capitalize pun de birds and bees,
    yuh see, cabal and rabble? da just aint we!Whuhloss!

  9. Wondering

    The land belongs to the people of B’dos.All of you have asked and made excellent points.There are more questions than answers, questions asked at the town hall meeting , water noise etc remain unanswered to this day!
    The EIA makes this statement repeatedly when dealing with the 2 questions above “when we receive outline planning permission these will be dealt with”.
    I hope Kerin’s goes and goes quickly! Another question for you,”how come only the Nation printed Peter Simmon’s letter when both newspapers were sent it” & “what is the connection between Bryan of the Advocate and Kerins”?

  10. Rumplestilskin


    Thanks for the answer.

    So basically, the Government (taxpayers) are to provide land at special cost and therefore subsidise the developer’s project.

    Hmm…now WHY would we want to do this?

    Also, I am still concerned over the ‘what if ‘questions RE future change of use.

    I would hope such would never happen, I mean, who would profit?

  11. John

    The Govt of Barbados has been sybsidizing developers costs for ages …. remember Westmoreland and the concessions.

    The Rooneys sold on in about 10 years and got $100million US …. not bad at all. No wonder we idiots figure highly in the list of countries where it so attractive to do business.

  12. Rumplestilskin

    Well, IF we are so silly as to allow the waterpark in the Graeme Hall area, on the land of Barbados citizens, I look forward to seeing a ‘clawback’ clause in the relevant legislation which stipulates that if the waterpark should ever be cloaed, then the land will fall back to agricultural use. There only alternate (although not a preference to agricultural) allowable subject to the clause will be to stipulate that in such case the land then be sold at the new current market value, to the highest bidder.

    That would prevent pre-meditated positioning to aquire land from the Government at low cost and then selling to make huge profit.

    Just a precaution of course…..

  13. Passin thru

    trouble is, after being used and abused for five or seven years, it would take millions to put the land back to ag use. To tear down the structures and unpave the place would be just a start. Then there is chemicals and trying to replace the topsoil removed to build the place.

    Who gonna pay for that with the waterpark bankrupt?

    You know the answer!

  14. Environmentalist

    Passin thru, you hit the nail on the head. Once the 17 acres has been approved for the water park it is lost forever to agriculture. The topsoil will be scraped and covered in concrete. Most people know that the headquarters of The Ministry of Agriculture is at Graeme Hall but do they also know that it is The Central Agronomic Research Station?

    The Ministry of Agriculture in the Addendum of the EIA made it clear that it does not support the water park at the proposed location and pointed out that the land is currently used for the experimental growing of crops.

    The question is whether we the citizens and all the relevant authorities can see the value and legacy for our children in leaving this land in agriculture for research/science/education/wetland buffer and not allow a water park or other environmentally inappropriate or unsustainable development at this location.

  15. Just Asking

    Some of you people should speak to carson cadogan as he seems to be unable to understand simple facts. Graeme Hall is not the place for a water park put it somewhere else, how about Bath, far you say, far in Barbados? There is a stream running millions of gallons of water every day into the sea. Use that if you need more, desalinate the sea water & dpump the brine back into the sea.
    A water park at GH is the same as building 472 new homes there. I find his letters and comments most distasteful and showing a particular lack of cs.

    This is in my opinon a great opportunity for all of us to do the coorect thing and to create a legacy for Barbadians. While we welcome visitors to our shores and must treat them well, it is the health and wellbeing of Bajans that must be in the forefront of our efforts.

  16. Rumplestilskin

    Usage of land in Barbados is now quite worrying, to the extent that I am starting to believe that our indigenous Barbados is slowly but surely being hijacked.

    For example, look at beach access, meaning the ability of the average Barbadian to park, disembark and enjoy the beach at various locations throughout the island.

    check the following:

    Dover – the ample parking there by the playing field in St.Lawrence has been replaced by stalls and pavement, parking now reduced to only a few (which it looks as if the stall owners use)….do we park on the road?…isnt that illegal?

    Pebble Beach – just before you get to the Hilton. Previous AMPLE parking has now been blocked by concrete short ‘pillars’…..’changing facilities or booths placed….who are the changing facilities for?…are we to park on the road?

    Mullins….previous wide open seaview and access now blocked

    Colony Club – the driveable public access which included parking is now blocked I am told ….while ‘construction’ is underway…

    Government has already stated the intention to
    remove the public buildings at Oistins (happens to include convenient parking access to the ‘NOW’ public beach and Miami beach) and sell for development.

    The planned development along the waterfront and Carlisle Bay area is well known. Exactly how much public access will be left to the average Barbadian? Will the current parking area on Carlisle Bay be left?

    Hmmm…are we seeing a trend here?

    As someone else referred to in another title on this site…smoke and mirrors…

    THIS beach access issue is serious. And before you know it….there wont be any access for the average Barbadian.

    It is time the persons responsible are held to account.

    Where is the Opposition? Hello? Hello?

  17. Pingback: Rich Brits Flock To Barbados Gated Communities As Land Sell-Off Continues « Barbados Free Press

  18. I, for one, am delighted that Kerins should further offend Barbadians with his Bolshy attitude. He has boasted of putting in B$4 million into the project, but I doubt he can tell us when or how. Without a proper accounting the suspicion must arise that some went “under the table.”

    Back in July when Prime Minister Arther called in on Brass Tacks and said he alone would decide what was in the nation’s best interest, I wrote to the Nation and Advocate saying that residents of the nearby areas could understand that the nation’s interest should be put before their own selfish concerns of noise, traffic congestion and reduced property values. So far as I know (I was away for a month) my letter never appeared in either newspaper which made me wonder if there was collusion in suppressing it.

    It is generally accepted that Ministry of Agriculture is shortly to go elsewhere . The lands they vacate are the largest piece of undeveloped land in the Greater Bridgetown area. Obviously the Prime Minister has a responsibility to maximise this unique opportunity to best advantage for the future wellbeing of the nation. The proposal to turn it all into a National Park must appear a waste when commercial tourist developments such as Water Splash, are licking their lips at the chance to lease these lands cheaply.

    The latest I have heard is that consideration is being given to an “eco-hotel” development” tied in with the Nature Sanctuary. This would certainly be preferable to Water Splash’s pollution ruining 17 prime acres in perpetuity. Much as I would love to see the whole area transformed into a National Park we must be realistic that the politicians will be tempted to use at least the two upper tiers to generate significant tourist income for the nation’s coffers on a continuing basis.

    But our prime objective must be to get the Prime Minister to give us his decision that Water Splash is NOT in the nation’s interest and turn down their application without further shillyshallying.

  19. Pingback: Barbados Blog Digest - Caribbean Splash Waterpark Developer Kerins - Ugly American, Or Just Losing It?

  20. Environmentalist

    Freespeech, you are correct when you say “obviously the Prime Minister has a responsibility to maximise this unique opportunity to best advantage for the future wellbeing of the nation”.

    It is indeed a unique opportunity and what better way to achieve this objective than by giving permanent legal protection to the Graeme Hall ecosystem by declaring the area a National Park. A well planned and managed National Park will also have econimic value.

    The following is taken from the Reference Guide of The Friends of Graeme Hall Committee Section 7 (

    National parks as economic value:
    “National Parks do have economic value–great economic value. They
    increase the property value of all the surrounding land, they generate economic activity in the regions in which they are located, and they
    tend to be magnets that attract economic activity to an area much larger than themselves. They stimulate tourism and its associated economic
    activities on a national and international basis. While it is generally acknowledged that national parks have economic value, this value is (and
    should be) secondary to the altruistic values of national pride.”

    Source: Theodore W. Sudia, “National Parks and Foreign Affairs,” George
    Wright Society (Hancock MI) website (no date),

    You certainly give us some food for thought in your comments but it really is up to each and every citizen to let the relevant authorities know that even though construction and development are needed for economic growth, too much “development” can reduce quality of life. We need green open spaces for leisure, recreation and solitude, we need agricultural research, we need to protect our environment.

    The Government itself has recognised the importance of preserving the environment and Goal 4 (Page 64) of the Draft National Strategic Plan 2005-2025 sets out the objective of promoting and facilitating the environmentally sustainable use of our natural resources. It talks about integrating environmental considerations into all aspects of national development. It says we “need to ensure that the integrity of natural features, wildlife habitats, significant flora and fauna, and important landscape and seascape features and protected areas are maintained during the process of develpment”.

    If Government follows the objectives of their Draft National Strategic Plan 2005-2025 it is difficult to see how permission can be given for a water park, eco-hotel or any commercial activity of this type on the lands currently being used for agricultural research purposes by the Central Agronomic Research Station.

  21. Environmentalist- I agree with all you say- we need green open space for leisure, recreation and solitude, we need agricultural research, we need to protect our environment. But when politicians make the decisions one has to face up to political realities. I have read “A Vision…” from cover to cover and do not feel it will persuade Mr Arthur that the two upper tiers would be being put to best use so far as the nation’s economic interests are concerned. Too much space is given to a Tropical Agriculture Education Centre with its Organic Farm Demonstration Site.

    I have long felt that the top tier, along ABC Highway, should be devoted to a permanent agriculture display centre with collateral facilities for agriculture displays. (Do you remember when they had a very successful show there before the highway was built?)

    The middle tier is suitable for sporting facilties using the escarpment for spectator seating, perhaps. The archery range is a good example, but there may be room for a velodrome,jogging track, horse riding and bicycling trails, etc. I feel there should be a national botanic garden combined with a zoo somewhere in the National Park, and the middle tier would be better for this than the wetlands of the bottom tier. Such facilities for the people of Barbados and visitors alike would have political appeal, even if they did not generate much tourist revenue or employment the way commercial tourism (eco-hotel, indoor ice or roller skating rink, indoor bowling complex etc…ugh!) would.

    I watch with interest every day the so-called experimental agriculture research at Graeme Hall, and have done for over twenty years. To be honest the land is underutilised, and much as we must guard our agricultural land, what they do at Graeme Hall could be done elsewhere. Moreover we know that the Ministry of Agriculture is to be moved, so let us face up to it.

    I fear that the Prime Minister may, like Solomon, cut and divide for maximum political mileage. He might agree to the bottom tier (Environmental Centre- RAMSAR Site) becoming our National Park, and retain the middle and upper tiers for remunerative projects. Our responsiblity will then be to fight tooth and nail that such projects are compatible with the ecology of the Nature Sanctuary and specifically exclude anything as disastrous as Caribbean Splash. You may feel I am defeatist in giving up on the dream of all three tiers being devoted to our national park, but I am only trying to be realistic.

  22. ross

    If government intended to follow the objectives of the National Strategic Plan 2005-2025 it would not still be a DRAFT!!!!!

    “If Government follows the objectives of their Draft National Strategic Plan 2005-2025 it is difficult to see how permission can be given for a water park, eco-hotel or any commercial activity of this type on the lands currently being used for agricultural research purposes by the Central Agronomic Research Station.”

  23. Ross/Environmentalist, did you miss hearing the PM say on Brass Tacks that a change of use would very likely be granted on these lands just as it had been for the Nature Sanctuary? It is perfectly normal for Government to have a draft plan and change its mind or follow it, whichever suits them when the time comes. Nobody seriously believes the Graeme Hall lands are going to remain agricultural, are you kidding?

  24. Rumplestilskin

    Bystander notes:”Nobody seriously believes the Graeme Hall lands are going to remain agricultural, are you kidding?”

    Fine, then at least let the process of sell off or lease be transparent, at current market value, to ensure that TAXPAYERS, the owners of the land now, get their value. In addition, give locals (and other ‘foreigners’) the right to bid for the use, not some non-transparent and peculiarly conceived process to a single person out of the blue.

  25. Rump- I heartily agree with you, no shady deals with the likes of Kerins. But even though the lands may not remain agricultural we can fight for as much of them as possible to remain “green.”

  26. Nature Photographer

    I read your well written letter above, Mr. Simmons. I’ve never been to Barbados (although I’d like) but I certainly agree with your sentiments! Keep as much of your country green and free as you can. There is no better fight than to preserve what we have for both future generations and for the flora & fauna that can not defend there homes against the greediest predators of them all – humans.

    I wish you success now & forever,

  27. Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    Archery greats you should write about next, my ex was an Archery champ!