Many years ago, it was announced that some $90 million was finally being spent to restore D’Urban Park. Work did commence, and afterwards the area was flattened of its overgrowth.
I do not know what happened to that project, and just how many millions of dollars were spent.
What I do know is that the area has returned to the jungle it was, and it will take quite a few tens of millions for the area to be restored once again.
I know it may not be all positive news, but I am hoping that someone can tell us just how much money was originally spent on the initial project to clear the area, and just why all the work that was done has been undermined by allowing the area to be returned to jungle.
I am hoping that some details can be provided as to just what went wrong, and why the residents of Lodge and surrounding areas, after decades of waiting, still cannot have somewhere for their children to go and play in the afternoons.
South Georgetown is an extremely large area, and it is densely populated. South Georgetown needs recreation areas.
When Forbes Burnham began his assault on the propertied class in Guyana, he decided that the symbol of their prestige, the race course at D’Urban Park, had to go, since this was not in keeping with the “egalitarian” society that he was attempting to build.
His excuse for the closure of the race course was the need to build a road link between what was then old Georgetown and the housing areas of North and South Ruimveldt which had sprung up.
There was also talk that the road link would facilitate the easy movement of bulk sugar.
And so D’Urban Park became public property, and was converted into a series of playfields on which the children of the poor of South Georgetown could play.
This development helped to ease a great deal of social tensions in those parts, and it did allow for the development of the skills of South Georgetown. Lodge itself produced a football club which, in a short period of time, made it into the first division in local football.
Readers of this column will recall that when the Government announced that it would be spending ninety million dollars to upgrade that facility, this column immediately asked that, when it was completed, it be named in honour of a now deceased Councilor of Georgetown who did more for the development of sports in Lodge and who organized a number of sporting events on D’Urban Park. That individual was Harold ‘Lightweight’ Kissoon.
It is a sad indictment of both the post-Burnham PNC government and also of the PPP, which is supposed to be a working class party, that D’Urban Park has remained neglected for so long.
It is sad appreciation of the need for South Georgetown to have some area dedicated to sports — a recreation that under the PPP some thought was given to converting that large acreage into a possible Government complex.
I recall the disapproval that was vented when, quite a few years ago, a medical doctor associated with the ruling PPP put forward a proposal for the area to be restored as a horse racing course once again.
The public came up with all manner of excuses as to why this should not happen.
Perhaps if permission was granted, Georgetown would have once again had a top class horse racing facility that could have attracted tourists to Guyana.
But, more importantly, I am sure that D’Urban Park would have been developed and the surrounding areas would have had somewhere for its young people to develop their sporting skills in the afternoons.
I think it is indeed sad what has taken place with D’Urban Park.
I think the entire area could have been developed, without any great expenditure, into a vast park with playfields for cricket, football lawn tennis and athletics just like the the Queens Park Savannah in Port of Spain.
I think a jogging park could have been developed and also a playground for smaller children.
Governments that do not appreciate the need for these things, particularly in densely populated areas, do not understand the importance of social engineering; and those who do not understand this need are often saddled with social problems which they cannot explain.
The neglect of D’Urban Park can be reversed by simply demanding explanations to one question—”Whatever became of that ninety million dollars project?”
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