The New Today


The uncertain future of our social infrastructure

“Infrastructure” is not a term conventionally used to describe the underpinnings of social life. But this is a consequential oversight, because the built environment influences the breadth and depth of our associations:”. (Eric Klinenberg – Professor of Social Sciences and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University-Extract from “Palaces for the people”).

In our Grenadian context what is regarded as Social Infrastructure can be divided into three categories, such as Public Institutions – like libraries, schools, government offices, playgrounds, parks and athletic fields, so too are sidewalks, community gardens and other green spaces “that invite people into the public realm”.

Community organisations, including churches and civic organisations, Commercial establishments are also an important part of social infrastructure, like cafes, supermarkets, vendors markets, shops, (hardware) stores, secretarial and computer services, barber shops, hair dressers etc which provide “the material foundations for social life”.

The most neglected of our social infrastructure can be seen under Public Institutions, where many of the structures are located that provide services for WE THE PEOPLE. In the colonial era – all annual budgets prepared by the British Governor provided allocations for the maintenance of public buildings; the record will show however, that at least for the last two decades (20 years), under the post-colonial governance of Dr. Keith Mitchell’s NNP administration – none of his annual budgets included allocations for expenditure under this aspect for our social infrastructure.

The net result of which, is the almost physical collapse of the facilities where the nation’s business is conducted, and as a consequence the unabated sub-standard and mediocrity of the services provided to WE THE PEOPLE by a demotivated public service – operating within a fractured social infrastructure which is inimical to efficiency and high productivity.

FAST FORWARD to June 23, 2022, when we the people put an end to this backwardness – and catapulted the nation overnight into the 21st century.

Indeed, the very first 2023 budget of the Hon. Dickon Mitchell’s NDC administration included allocations for the repairs and maintenance of all public buildings with specific reference to the St. George’s Public Library, which has been closed for at least 11 years, with scant regards – until recently, for our invaluable historic records, archival material and general information, which lay unattended within an inclement environment, which may now be seriously compromised.

Under this category – parks and recreational facilities must not be forgotten, and two of our most important sites come to mind i.e. Camerhogne Park and the Lagoon area now named “the Kirani James Boulevard”.

The “Save the Camerhogne Park Committee” has continued its advocacy during the reign of the NNP, when it was uncertain whether the park was sold or given away to a so-called foreign investor.

Today there is a sigh of relief as the committee is assured that the new NDC administration, which understands the therapeutic (social) and spiritual uplift which the park provides for the people – cannot be traded for a “pot of porridge”.

It is the expectation of the committee that the park would soon be upgraded and the adjoining site be incorporated as a NATIONAL HEROES PARK.

The social infrastructure however, that is crying out for urgent major development and upgrading is the KIRANI JAMES BOULEVARD. This site, as Grenadians would recall, was selected by the Tillman Thomas NDC administration in honouring Kirani, as Grenada’s first ever GOLD MEDALIST in the London Olympics 400 metre race in 2012.

Today, the so-called boulevard is a sorrow sight – situated immediately (to the) West of the nation’s Physical Planning Unit in the GCNA complex, which is the technical arm of the Development and Planning Authority.

A free for all, with shacks built from decaying plywood, makeshift living squatters, vagrants, drug pushers and prostitution, garbage, huge unsightly and illegal parking of trailers and containers, overnight peddlers huts, not forgetting the derelict and abandoned yachts in the waters of the Lagoon which the Port Authority has no authority it would seem, over the past 15 years or so, to remove or have it removed, by the marine developer who refused to have it towed away on completion of his contract – (Echoes of a lawless and environmentally unfriendly segment of our society).

There is an effort by the new ministry of Visible Transformation and Implementation under the Hon. Andy Williams to clean the area, but this is just “the tip of the iceberg” – so to speak. This effort is commendable but should be the beginning of making the site a real BOULEVARD, by “evening-out” the shoreline with earth-fill, retained by boulders, then grass the new uniformed reclaimed area; the removal of (the) trees that are not suitable, and replaced in a purposeful layout with colourful shaded trees with benchers for enjoyment and relaxation.

This to my mind is not too much to do for our NATIONAL HERO, while at the same time providing a major social infrastructure facility and the GREENING of our city – as we endeavour to uplift the quality of life for WE THE PEOPLE, in pure Grenada, and providing another tourism site for our visitors.

In conclusion – opportunity is taken to remind readers and fellow Grenadians that on February 7th 2024 Grenada would be celebrating its 50th GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE; the Willie Redhead Foundation would therefore, be grateful for the support of the National Celebrations Committee and by extension the government of Grenada, in encouraging the Business Community and Captains of Commerce in St. George’s to give our Capital City a FACELIFT for this once in a lifetime occasion, and to support the organisation in its effort to restore this aspect of our social infrastructure in the heart of St. George’s, by soliciting the business owners and operators in the vicinity, in funding the replacement of the balcony and awning on the building at the corner of Granby and Halifax streets where Huggins Farm & Garden outlet is located, which initiative – the foundation is assured by the local agent, would have no objection by the absentee owner(s).

This is an effort to RESTORE the lost ambiance in the heart of our historic Capital City, once regarded as the prettiest Georgian town in the Caribbean, and as a fillip to our tourism product, with an element of “surprise” to our cruise ship visitors.

Opportunity is taken, to wish one and all, especially our civic minded citizens, a healthy and prosperous NEW YEAR as we continue to contribute to the National Transformational Agenda as an integral part of our evolving Caribbean civilization.

Norris Mitchell
Chartered Architect