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Burch: Government seeks advice on Sandys 360

A Government bid to buy a shuttered sports centre may be scrapped, the House of Assembly has heard.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the $1 million sale was still budgeted and approved by the House, but questions had come up about who would run the Sandys 360 centre.

Speaking on Friday, Colonel Burch explained a legal opinion suggested the sports centre's Board of Governors would still have a say in the future of the site even after a sale.

He added: “If that is the case, and I will put you on notice, we ain't buying it.”

Colonel Burch said Government awaited a definitive answer from the Attorney-General's Chambers.

He added: ‘It adds to the challenge as it is deteriorating with each passing day.

“There was a request for us to do some work there, but we can't do that because we are not allowed to invest public funds into buildings that are owned privately.”

The Sandys 360 Sports, Aquatic and Enrichment Centre opened in September 2009 but closed in November 2013 because it was unable to make ends meet.

A KPMG report into the failed centre revealed that almost $6 million of public money was ploughed into it before April 2014.

Parliament approved a plan in March 2018 for taxpayers to bail out the trustees by buying the centre and surrounding land with another $1 million of public money.

But it was reported last July that negotiations with HSBC, the mortgage lender, had stalled “as a result of a third party laying a claim to some indebtedness from the trustees of Sandys 360”.

Colonel Burch also gave an update on the TN Tatem Middle School, which was closed permanently in February after it was hit with severe mould problems.

He told the House of Assembly: “The reality is there were three classrooms that had serious issues with mould and the music room.”

Colonel Burch said the problems with the classrooms had been dealt with, but the music room would take longer as wood flooring would need to be removed.

He added that the Ministry has already been contacted by several parties interested in using the former school once work was carried out.

Colonel Burch said: “We will get to the stage where the building will be straightened out and we will look at the recommendations for its future uses and make a decision.”

He said the ministry had worked to teach Government employees about the causes of mould and its prevention.

Colonel Burch said: “We started with the schools and we are having success there.

“The custodians now turn off the air conditioning by 7pm and open the windows in the schools to let fresh air come into the equation.”

He added that the windows were closed and air conditioning turned back on before pupils arrived in the morning.

Colonel Burch also told the House that the Department of Parks Headquarters will move to Marsh Folly in Pembroke after Government abandoned a plan to build a new maintenance yard at the Botanical Gardens in Paget.

He added that the area at the gardens would instead used for extra parking.

Sandys 360 (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 10, 2020 at 3:11 pm (Updated March 10, 2020 at 3:13 pm)

Burch: Government seeks advice on Sandys 360

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