“A Barbadian friend told me, “There are few safe places to walk, or enjoy simple tranquility on the South Coast. It’s already urbanised, with busy roads and heavy traffic, and the highest urban density on the island. Shouldn’t we make a commitment to park lands first, to improve our quality of life in this area, before we start talking about more development?”
The Friends of Graeme Hall convinced me that this area needs to be saved for adults, families and children who live and work on the South Coast. The Friends have promised that they are willing to be partners with Government to help develop fundraising to pay for recreational amenities, as well as assistance funding for various government-directed improvements to the area, including Ministry of Agriculture facilities.”
… According to our source at The Nation News, the above two paragraphs were deliberately censored out of a Letter to the Editor – from National Park donor and Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary founder Peter Allard. Source says “space had nothing to do with it” – editor considered words “too strong”.
Nation Letters Editor Had An Agenda Of Deceiving Barbados Public & Leadership – But Why?
We totally missed the story that Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary founder and National Park donor Peter Allard sent a letter to the editor of The Nation News that was published on February 28, 2007 as a “Guest Column” – or we would have covered it immediately.
Yesterday we received an email from one of our friends at The Nation News who asked “Why haven’t you covered this?” and alerted us that Peter Allard’s letter had been deliberately censored as “too strong” – rather than shortened due to any space issues. (Hey – I guess the letters editor will now claim she wanted to conserve space on the internet! 😉 )
Our friend also sent us a copy of the original letter as received by The Nation News so we could compare the two versions.
Two Deleted Paragraphs
The first deleted paragraph hardly seems to be the stuff of controversy, to me anyway. It makes a good point that the south coast is highly urbanised and that we should improve the quality of life in the area before we proceed with any further development.
Sounds reasonable to me, but once again, hardly controversial. Although the letter doesn’t directly say so, it makes an important point about putting a National Park at Graeme Hall – it will be highly accessible and near to the majority of our population. While National Park in Scotland district would be nice, it would be remote and a long journey for most Bajans – especially via public transit.
For a hundred thousand Bajans, a National Park at Graeme Hall would be minutes away via transit. You could practically have your lunch there and then return to work. Fabulous!
The second deleted paragraph is interesting. I guess I hadn’t read the original Friends of Graeme Hall (FGH) proposal for a National Park that closely because I missed the important point that the FGH will be helping to develop funding to pay for recreational amenities as well as assistance funding for government-directed improvements to the area including Ministry of Agriculture facilities.
That is quite an offer. In conjunction with the nature sanctuary land being given towards the National Park the value must be in the millions of dollars – as a gift to the people of Barbados. Money even going towards Ministry of Agriculture facilities!
Again – that is quite an offer and one that is certainly worthy of serious consideration by all.
Vital Information Deliberately Withheld By The Nation News
I find it highly disturbing that the letters editor at The Nation News should deliberately withhold this information from consideration by citizens and their elected and appointed representatives. Highly disturbing.
It also leads me to consider how we are being manipulated by the media on a number of issues – through the regular withholding of information from the public. (Immediately coming to mind is the recent story of the two lawyers who were castigated by the court for unethical behaviour during land deals. Although the reporter was in court when the judge was addressing the lawyers – when the Nation News published the story, it withheld the names of the lawyers from the public. Who’s interest was being served there? Certainly not the public interest! See BFP’s story Buying Land In Barbados?)
When Friends Of Barbados Want To Help, Shouldn’t We At Least Pay Attention?
A few weeks ago, we wrote about the charitable work being done in Barbados by Moody Blues’ bassist John Lodge.
We said… “We see many of the rich and famous in Barbados. Mostly they just sun themselves and relax, and even those who have second homes on the island seldom contribute much more to the country than an ordinary tourist… If only more of the rich and famous took an interest in Barbados the way that Mr. & Mrs. Lodge do.” (BFP story link here)
Which brings us to Mr. Peter Allard
I wouldn’t know Peter Allard if he sat next to me at Chefette. I couldn’t even find a photo of him online to include in this story… but I can see the man’s character every day on my way to work, through his gifts to the people of Barbados. He is obviously a man who enjoys doing good works because he has (I understand) put some 20 million dollars into the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. He helped to build artificial reefs through the Barbados Marine Trust and we also hear of other, quiet generosity by Mr. Allard.
Some people might say that Peter Allard has “invested” 20 million dollars into the nature sanctuary – but that would be inaccurate. If he “invested” the money in the nature sanctuary in the traditional meaning of the word, then he is a fool indeed!
You could say that he has “invested” the money for the people of Barbados because it is us, not Peter Allard, who benefits from his work today and in the future. And now, he has offered to FREELY GIVE 25 acres of prime land to a National Park for Barbados – and the Friends of Graeme Hall have offered to FREELY GIVE funding and effort so that our future generations will have a National Treasure instead of more concrete.
Shabby Treatment For A Person Who Loves Barbados And Has Given So Much To Bajans
So Mr. Allard wrote a letter to the people of Barbados to tell them directly about his gift to our children and our children’s children and into the future. He trusted The Nation News to bring that message to Bajans and their leaders – an important message that should be of interest to every citizen.
Mr. Allard has been treated shabbily by The Nation News – and perhaps by some others. But it is Barbados and her future generations that will be the worse off and the losers if sincere folks like Mr. Allard can’t even expect common courtesy when they selflessly give millions of dollars to our people – simply because they love Barbados and Bajans.
If you want to see Mr. Allard’s letter as disgustingly censored by The Nation News, click here. Otherwise, here is Mr. Allard’s full letter as originally received by The Nation News. I’ve put the deleted paragraphs in italics…
23 February 2007
Letter to the Editor
LETTER FOR PUBLICATION
Subject: Proposed Graeme Hall National Park
In December, 2006, I made an offer through the Friends of Graeme Hall to donate 25 acres of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary lands to the proposed 244-acre Graeme Hall National Park.
To ensure long-term success of the proposed National Park, the land donation proposal is integrated with an offer for additional financial and technical support for fundraising, development and management services provided by the Friends of Graeme Hall and the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to the new National Park and the Government of Barbados. Combined with the land donation, these proposed services by the Sanctuary and the Friends would be in close cooperation with Government, and would make Graeme Hall National Park one of the finest multi-use parks in the world.
I have great respect for the efforts being made by the Friends of Graeme Hall to bring attention and support to the fact that the proposed Park is the last remaining green space on the South Coast between the airport and Bridgetown.
It is my understanding that various government ministries/departments are now evaluating the feasibility of the proposed Graeme Hall National Park, as well as the offer of private-sector support for the Park.
I write to publicly commit to this offer, and to the proposal that the lands and facilities of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary be within the boundaries of the proposed National Park.
With its bird migration ponds and white and red mangrove woodland, and surrounded by agricultural buffer lands maintained by the Ministry of Agriculture, Graeme Hall is regarded by scientists, teachers, bird watchers and environmentalists as one of the last significant wildlife habitats on Barbados.
The lower area of the proposed Park is protected under the Convention on Wetlands RAMSAR Treaty, but many believe ultimate the protection of this area and its surrounding upland buffers should be within a designated, multi-use National Park.
The Friends of Graeme Hall have collected over 6000 signatures to date from citizens who want the area preserved as a wildlife habitat, agricultural area, and low-density recreational activities. If it is agreed to establish the the National Park, more recreational opportunities could be available in and around the agricultural lands at Graeme Hall (www.graemehallnationalpark.org).
At a recent gathering at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, one mother told me, “My daughter wants a bicycle, but I can’t give one to her because there is no place safe to ride. If the the National Park were established, and a bicycle trail was put in, she would get her bicycle.”
Others have told me that a national park on the South Coast would be like having Central Park in New York, with bicycle and running trails, picnic areas, and the like.
As a businessman, I fully understand those who ask how it is possible to justify the economic cost of a national park at Graeme Hall, because some perceive it would be more valuable to the public, and to Barbados, if a substantial portion of the agricultural land at Graeme Hall was approved for change of use, and developed commercially as a high-density tourist or other project.
But, as an environmentalist, I also understand that preserving our environment and our irreplaceable natural resources preserves the legacy of a nation, and that parks and open space make adults and children happy and healthy.
Business is one thing, but good neighborhood quality of life must include open space to ensure long-term social health.
A Barbadian friend told me, “There are few safe places to walk, or enjoy simple tranquility on the South Coast. It’s already urbanised, with busy roads and heavy traffic, and the highest urban density on the island. Shouldn’t we make a commitment to park lands first, to improve our quality of life in this area, before we start talking about more development?”
The Friends of Graeme Hall convinced me that this area needs to be saved for adults, families and children who live and work on the South Coast. The Friends have promised that they are willing to be partners with Government to help develop fundraising to pay for recreational amenities, as well as assistance funding for various government-directed improvements to the area, including Ministry of Agriculture facilities.
It is clear to me that the Friends have an admirable altruistic mission, and are interested in coordinating private resources with Government so that Graeme Hall National Park can serve the citizens of Barbados and visitors for the next 200 years.
I am pleased to be able to state publicly my commitment to assist in bringing the Graeme Hall National Park to fruition. It would be a wonderful thing for the people of Barbados, but it is not up to me to decide.
I respect the will of the people of Barbados, and if they, and their government, do not want a Park, then I will respect that. But if they do, and the Government of Barbados is willing to carry forward this initiative on their behalf, then I stand ready to assist in every way possible.
Peter A Allard
Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary
Link Added – Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary
It is with some embarrassment that we realize we have never put up a sidebar link to the website of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary – although we have linked in various stories. That’s corrected now.