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Park campaigners call for support

Campaign group Take Back Our Park has issued a call for residents to sign a petition against work on a new maintenance yard at the Botanical Gardens.

“We already have more than 3,600 signatures which is phenomenal and shows people’s strength of feeling about the importance of this area. Government is still supporting it despite this huge number and a recent Supreme Court ruling,” TBOP spokeswoman Jennifer Flood said in a statement. The group is aiming for 5,000 signatures.

Last week, local residents succeeded in getting a temporary injunction to stop the work at the site which is intended to be a new Parks department headquarters. TBOP says it believes Parks staff need a new HQ, but argue that the centre of Botanical Gardens is the wrong place.

Under the plans, Government wants to build a mustering point for more than 100 staff, parking for dozens of vehicles, two two-storey buildings, a training room, a storage room and a paint shop. TBOP believes it is an increase over what existed before on the site.

TBOP fears that water trucks will go back and forth to the site where a large water tank has already been erected.

Mrs Flood said that in granting the temporary injunction, the Chief Justice had noted that “the proposed development is seemingly actively opposed by roughly five per cent of the country’s population (more than ten per cent of all those who voted in the last election), who have signed a petition”.

“The Chief Justice also said that effectively the public had not had the opportunity to comment on the plan as required by the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986 because it had been advertised as 169 South Road and not the Botanical Gardens,” said Mrs Flood.

As well as launching the petition, the group has written to every MP and senator, including the MP for the area, Craig Cannonier, who is also the Minister for Works and Engineering, which is responsible for the project.

The petition states that:

• the maintenance yard will provide a throughway for heavy trucks going from Berry Hill to South Shore Road and vice versa;

• 100-120 Parks staff will be driving to this site on a daily basis to collect and/or drop off heavy trucks, trailers, tractors and equipment creating noise and activity within the Gardens;

• there will be increased rush hour congestion and traffic along South Shore Road and hospital zone;

• heavy trucks, trailers, tractors and equipment will be parked at the site nights, weekends and holidays and will be viewable from within the Botanical Gardens;

• the site will be used for repairing and maintaining Parks vehicles and equipment therefore causing noise pollution and an unsightly view for visitors to the Botanical Gardens;

• the original planning application in the paper listed the address for this redevelopment as 169 South Road. No mention was made that it was in Botanical Gardens nor that this site was zoned as Park therefore we feel inadequate notice was given to the public about this project

Mrs Flood added: “We know that this site, which has been derelict for a number of years, had previously been used as a Parks depot.

“We believe that this development is on a much larger scale, and we have not been able to find any evidence that traffic and environmental impact studies were done. Government missed an opportunity to find an alternative site.”

To sign the petition, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/YSM25FB