Tensions flared in Albouystown yesterday afternoon when a crew from the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) went into the area to demolish three buildings, much to the dissatisfaction of residents.
According to reports, about a dozen demolition men turned out at the corner of James and Cooper Streets about noon to tear down some buildings.
When this newspaper visited the location, the area had been cordoned off with yellow tape. Residents, obviously irate, were not afraid to voice their frustrations.
“They just come here; they ain’t tell nobody nothing! They ain’t even bring a piece of paper, nothing. They just start breaking down,” one man said angrily.
“They ain’t even come and give we no notice,” another resident chimed in. She continued, “A set of li’l, li’l children living here and they come to throw all of us out.”
According to residents, the M&CC crew turned out and, without any warning, began breaking down the door of the building at the corner of James and Cooper Streets. Two nearby buildings were also tagged for demolition.
“They just start brukking down the man place. They lash off the door and go in and the man ain’t even deh,” one woman explained. The woman added that the men did not identify themselves when they arrived in Albouystown.
The area was a hive of activity as residents – affected and unaffected – turned out to see what was happening. The epicentre of the activity was at the building where the demolition was underway. This building is used as a bakery. There, residents hurled words at the demolition men and berated them for the “heartless” act.
For the most part, the demolition crew remained silent, huddled together in the space where a wall once stood. When approached by this newspaper, they were tight-lipped.
Eston Bostwick, a prominent figure in the community, explained that he was called by residents who all claimed that no notice of the demolition had been given.
“According to what I know, you’re supposed to have 14 days notice to either fix the place or have it demolished. Those are according to the city bylaws. If there is a variation of those laws, the public certainly has no knowledge of it,” Bostwick stressed.
He continued, “I find it real terrible, much less coming to Christmas. I think they should have given the people a notice to have them turn it into a habitable condition rather than using the ‘big stick’ method.”
He stressed that there was no evidence that anyone in the area received any notice in writing.
“That in itself creates a problem. Someone said that they were instructed to do this but you’re not getting the person who gave the instructions,” he said. He explained that his primary objective was to keep the situation from escalating.
“The previous government didn’t give people money to fix their places and this new government can at least give people time. The people may not have the money but they should at least give people time to fix their places,” Bostwick stressed.
However, while the residents are insisting that no warning had been given to them, the City Council is in turn insisting that a notice had been issued to the owner of the property.
Up to last week, M&CC had indicated that the Albouystown residence was among a number of locations identified for immediate demolition. Then, an M&CC official had said that the Albouystown building was “environmentally and structurally” unsuitable.
Yesterday, an M&CC official explained that the owners, who pay rates and taxes for the properties, would have written for tax exemptions to the City Council.
They subsequently indicated their desires to have the buildings demolished.
According to the official, the owners would have been the ones to receive notice of the demolition. In turn, it would have been up to the owners of the buildings to inform the tenants of the pending demolition.
“It would have been up to the owners to inform anyone on the property; it’s not the Council’s place to come between a landlord and tenant type of relationship.” The official stressed that the property is not that of the Council but rather the owners and the Council simply demolishes the buildings as requested.
Just last week, M&CC demolished the four derelict buildings at the infamous ‘Globe Yard’ on Waterloo Street. About 50 persons occupied these buildings.
Yesterday, the M&CC was scheduled to host a meeting to address the demolition process. However, this meeting was not held.
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