Help. It must stop
My name is Sharon Helene Evadné Rivière. I am 75 years old and I am the youngest daughter of pilot Walter H. Darrell (d) and Muriel L (Dismont) Darrell (d).
This is the very first time that I have submitted a Letter to the Editor to express my concerns. Over the years I have written several, but never turned them in to be published. How I wish I had kept copies, so that I would know what disturbed me so much to warrant such letters!
In the early 1980s, we purchased our Dismont homestead, “Poinciana Villa”, on 93 St John’s Road, Pembroke — right next to my former high school, the Berkeley Institute, now a cultural centre.
This house is full of great memories that I continue to relive, as I walk from room to room. During my growing-up years, the house overlooked “The Box” — which was the sports arena and later the Berkeley school field.
I can remember helping to serve tea and my grandmother’s delicious gingerbread to her three other sisters, who would come often and sit and talk, and watch whatever sports game, mainly football, on the field in front of the house.
These ladies were some of the Nearon girls from St George’s, three of 11 children born to John Nearon, a Caucasian Scotsman, and Charlotte, a Bermudian of mixed race. My mother, Muriel, was the eldest child of Albert and Ivy (Nearon) Dismont, and there were three other children — Russell, Cecil and Helene. This is the home where they all grew up, and this house was the central gathering place for our Dismont family long before I was born, and beyond.
Years ago, when I was spending a lot of time in our US home, I remember Stuart Hayward contacting me and asking me to join the fight to prevent Belco from buying the old “Box”, which was of great significance to our Black cultural legacy. When I heard that the deal included Berkeley getting the Ridgeway property to build an entire high school campus, I was really excited and refused to join his efforts to stop the sale of the “Box”.
Today, as I see the Berkeley Institute campus, I do not regret my decision, but I do admit that I never envisioned what Belco planned to do with the site!
The monstrosity that they built still amazes me — a five-storey power plant, a huge smoke stack, and another building with lots of fuel tanks running right along St John’s Road across from the Hayward family property, our Dismont homestead, Berkeley’s Cultural Centre property, and the Stirling’s pink building, which served as Berkeley’s Home Economics building and is now an apartment complex, up to the Tribe Road and Gorham’s boundary.
Everyone by now has seen it, and most of us in our Pembroke community, and even beyond, are dealing with soot and rust particles on our roofs, with contaminated water in our tanks being absorbed into our pores every time we bathe, or even wash our hands!
For years most of us have had no choice but to buy water because of the contamination from the two older smoke stacks, while some residents are taking the chance of boiling their water in the hope that this would destroy any of the contaminants — but not really knowing for sure.
We are now contending with the assault on our respiratory systems from the diesel-like smell that permeates the air, searing our eyes and throats, and giving many of us severe headaches, often forcing us to retreat into our homes to breathe, only to find that the “stench” has already seeped through the doors and windows ... so we cannot escape it, even in the privacy of our homes!
I encourage everyone reading this to join our fight for fairness from Belco, Ascendant and the apparent new owner, Algonquin!
A group of us have formed the Bermuda Clean Air Coalition. I do not speak for the group; however, I, along with all of our members, endure what I have stated and so much more, practically every minute of every day.
Help. It must stop.