Peter Simmons, the Chairman of the Friends of Graeme Hall citizen’s group, wrote a letter to various news media including Barbados Free Press. The Nation News printed his letter but deleted some of the paragraphs.
We are printing the entire letter with the deleted sections shown in red.
There have been many times in the past when the Nation News has heavily censored or even refused to cover stories involving Graeme Hall National Park – in our opinion to avoid embarrassing the Barbados Government. For examples, read…
While this type of censorship, bias and outright lapdog behaviour towards the government is a betrayal of the media’s duty towards Barbados and the public – we also recognize that any newspaper might have space limits or fear legal problems under our outrageous libel laws.
In the past, we have been sure about The Nation News’ censorship. This time, we’re not so sure that we detect an agenda.
Here is the letter as we received it from The Friends Of Graeme Hall, once again with the sections deleted by the Nation News shown in red…
Park Figures Don’t Add Up
Lawrence Loughlin who, with fellow American Matthew Kerins of Caribbean Water Splash, seems determined to construct a water park adjacent to the Errol Barrow Roundabout at Graeme Hall, reacted with lightning speed to the announcement that permission had been granted for a water park at the Ocean Park Aquarium just up the highway at Balls.
Writing on the Barbados Free Press blog on June 6, he says, inter alias:
1) “Same old, same old gross misrepresentations of facts and figures . . .
2) “Our project will be a wholesome playground for children and youngsters . . .
3) “I can take extreme comfort and knowledge that my private polling suggests 93 per cent of Bajans polled were enthralled about the water park. I even went a step further, by saying I am willing to do a referendum on the issue. If 75 per cent or less of Bajans do not want a water park, then we gone . . .
4) “Are we not a democracy!!! Let the people have their voice.”
As a Barbadian living in our robust democracy, I write on behalf of The Friends of Graeme Hall Inc. and the hundreds of residents of Graeme Hall and the surrounding districts, 420 of whom have signed a petition to the Chief Town Planner objecting to a water park at Graeme Hall.
I also write on behalf of the 6 083 individuals from across the length and breadth of Barbados who have signed a public petition in favour of the creation of a national park at Graeme Hall.
I find No.1 most interesting coming from one of the group who wants to lease 17 acres of Government-owned land at a peppercorn rent ($100 per year?) rather than buying it at its commercial value of, I am advised, between $25 and $30 per sq. ft and ask the following:
a) If they are seeking a peppercorn lease to avoid paying the realistic commercial price for the land and will erect what they call “chattel house type structures” on it, on precisely what will the alleged US$22 million investment be spent?
b) Why do Loughlin and Kerins want to convert five of the 17 acres into a concrete car park to accommodate 2 000 motor vehicles, making it the largest car park not only in Barbados, but in the entire English-speaking Caribbean?
c) Who said at a church hall meeting that amount of parking was a Town Planning requirement?
d) On what was the 2 000 parking spots based? Was it on Caribbean Water Splash’s projection that there would be over 2 000 visitors per day?
e) When Henderson Forde, a director of Caribbean Water Splash, said on the Brass Tacks Sunday programme which was dedicated to discussing the water park, that 300 000 visitors per year were projected, was it not Lawrence Loughlin who was in the studio with me who challenged Forde’s figure and said that his own projection was 270 000?
f) If you divide Forde’s and Loughlin’s figures by 365, they are both projecting less than 1 000 visitors a day.
g) Additionally, since the majority of patrons will be “children and youngsters” who presumably are not licensed to drive motor vehicles, the mystery deepens intriguingly!
h) Are Loughlin and Kerins aware that at the new International Waterfront Development project in Port-of-Spain comprising two 26-storey corporate office towers, a 22-floor 428-room hotel, a conference complex and retail shopping facilities, the car park will be for 1 200 vehicles? (Business Authority, May 28, 2007).
i) When will Barbadians learn if there may be a hidden agenda behind construction of this massive car park when, by their own admission, less than 1 000 patrons per day on average will visit?
j) Could it be that should the water park fail (and I am not aware of one anywhere in the Caribbean which has been successful), then the five acres under concrete could easily facilitate the construction of upscale condominiums and townhouses?
I am fascinated that Lawrence Loughlin takes “extreme comfort and knowledge” that his “private polling suggests 93 per cent of Bajans polled were enthralled about the water park”.
I ask: who was polled? What was their social, economic, racial and age cohorts? Where and when was the poll conducted? Who was the pollster?
Will Mr. Loughlin answer these questions and share the information or will he run and take cover under the cloak that it was a private and confidential poll, his “private polling” for his eyes only?
We, the Friends of Graeme Hall Inc., take great comfort in and extrapolate from the results of our two real public petitions two factual conclusions. One, that 420 people from Graeme Hall and its environs do not want a water park at Graeme Hall.
Secondly, that there are over 6 083 real, living people who enthusiastically want a national park instead and have petitioned for it. Both petitions are available for public scrutiny.
I note Mr Loughlin has introduced a novel, if absurd, dimension to governance in our polity. He proposes a referendum on the water park and asserts “if 75 per cent or less of Bajans do not want a water park, then we gone”.
Please, Mr Loughlin, if you want to be treated seriously, desist from displaying your cavalier ignorance of our political culture. A referendum on your water park? You have obviously seen pigs flying and cows jumping over the moon!
That said, he gets high marks for his parachute clause. With public opinion running strongly against them, with permission granted to construct another water park already granted, and with this country unlikely to sustain two viable water parks, the boys backing Caribbean Splash are clearing preparing to jump.
We wish them the best of Bajan luck. Go in peace.
* Peter Simmons is chairman of Friends of Graeme Hall Inc.
Read the letter as printed in the Nation News (link here)