Restore the city
plan on the table
August 5, 2004
`We’re trying to wrest Georgetown from the image it has acquired’ – Dr Roger Luncheon, Cabinet Secretary
CABINET has endorsed a Greater Georgetown development plan that could see the capital restored to its once proud `Garden City’ of the Caribbean status, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon announced yesterday.
The restore Georgetown plan was put together with inputs from the government, the private sector, the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), the Georgetown municipality and other stakeholders, he told his weekly post-cabinet press briefing.
Luncheon said aspects of the scheme would soon be implemented.
The seawall area, widely popular among citizens for Sunday afternoon and holiday walks, and Durban Park, have been earmarked for development under an “economic opportunities” aspect of the plan, the government spokesman reported.
Tenders will soon be closed and awards made to prospective developers of the seawall project, he said.
According to Luncheon, the government’s endorsement of the ambitious plan considers more than just a financial input by stakeholders.
“There is indeed the exercise of political will…as well as political capital in trying to wrest Georgetown from the image it has acquired…and restore it to the `Garden City’ of the Caribbean”, he told reporters.
The government expects inputs from the private and state sectors in developing the seawall and Durban Park, he said.
Much of Durban Park, once one of the best horse racing tracks in the Caribbean, has fallen into disuse and large tracts are overgrown with grass and bush.
A plan mulled several years ago included putting up a shopping mall in the park area but that did not get off the ground.
Luncheon said new laws would have to be passed and funds acquired from the municipality to implement other aspects of the project.
Some parts have been identified for “mixed use development” to link industrial areas with commercial enterprises, or residential with commercial or institutional activities, he explained.
This, he added, would be a change from the past where certain activities were identified for clearly defined areas.
He said this is in recognition that areas can or already are accommodating different activities.
He reported that in discussions between the government and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Georgetown, both sides expressed the need for the plan to be implemented “sooner than later”.
However, he pointed out that the “legal, administrative and regulatory underpinnings” would have to be addressed.
He said construction of buildings under the plan would have to be under a new Building Code to be promulgated soon.
It will have “suitable amendments” which will consider the interests of technical and professional workers in the construction industry, particularly issues such as safety features, the spokesman said.
Luncheon said the current building rules have to be revised because of deficiencies and the “fixation” by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the development of modern building codes.
CARICOM’s position is based on the susceptibility of other member states to natural disasters, something which has not had a major impact in Guyana, he said.
He reported that cabinet recently met a joint delegation from the CH&PA and Mayor and City Council as it continued its review and examination of the plan.
The parties were urged to consult and collaborate with stakeholders in the city, he said. (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL)