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New features in the redesigned Seamoon Cultural Centre

Ron Redhead - Minister of Sports and Culture

The new Congress government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell is awaiting a report on the use of an initial EC$3 million that was handed over to the local company awarded the contract to start work on the Seamoon Cultural Centre in the St Andrew North-east constituency.

According to a high-level government source, it is questionable that the money was used up in totality given the limited amount of work done on the site by the Contractor just before the June 23, 2022 General Election.

He said the $3 million issue was brought to the attention of the incoming administration by the Consultant who is attached to the project.

Speculation is rife that the money was given by the former Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government to the Contractor to cover the initial cost for mobilization purposes to start the project in the rural constituency.

The former government was accused of rushing to start the project as part of its electioneering in the entire St Andrew parish for the 2022 general election.

The Congress government official told THE NEW TODAY that it was awaiting a report from the Consultant who has been mandated to determine whether the limited work done at Seamoon had amounted to EC$3 million.

The Dickon Mitchell-led administration has also stated that the correct procedure was not followed by the previous regime to disburse the money to the Contractor for the Seamoon Cultural Centre.

During Tuesday’s sitting of Parliament, Sports and Culture Minister Ron Redhead responded to the constant calls from opposition MP for the Constituency Kate Lewis for work to resume in Seamoon.

According to the senior government minister, he is being “modest” in the use of words to inform Parliament that the Seamoon Cultural Centre was started by the former NNP regime not in keeping with good practices and procedures.

“We did have to take the decision to slow what was going on there to ensure that in the interest of Grenada that our resources were being adequately invested,” he said.

Minister Redhead reported that within 4 months of reviewing the project “it was obvious that the concept that was being constructed and what was done prior would have run us into significant problems” and expressed fears that “Grenada would have lost nearly $30 million on a pavilion and stage.”

He pointed to a number of technical issues with the project and the need to find solutions to provide a state-of-the art facility at Seamoon.

The minister disclosed that in October 2022, the new government had to make some “significant changes” with the structural designs, as well as the Mechanical Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) installation services and some aspects of the architectural concept.

“…We had to redesign the foundation system, we had to redesign the structural members that accompany the foundation system,” he said.

“We added some significant improvements and details on the roof of the pavilion and for the stage at which people will be allowed to perform – so we had to redesign that,” he added.

In terms of the MEP, Minister Redhead indicated that the government was forced to re-evaluate all of the elements including a redesign of the electrical and plumbing systems and was forced to add some new improvements and considerations.

He also alluded to additional work when it came “to resize and reorganise the spaces in the building, as well as the aesthetics, features, social inclusion, material finishes, architectural details among others.

This, Minister Redhead said had to be done as no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was done of the project by the former NNP regime of Dr. Keith Mitchell.

“What was said by the past administration is that this was on old site and an EIA was not necessary,” he told Parliament.

According to the Member of Parliament for St George North-east, these are modern times and the conduct of an EIA should have been a standard practice but it was apparently waived by the previous administration because of the need for expediency or simple because some people did not care.

Minister Redhead pointed out that the eleven month old Congress government also took the position that it will not leave the project singlehandedly to a ministry to manage the process but to establish a management committee to look at the Seamoon Cultural Centre and its construction.

“…We decided to organise a group of individuals to be named shortly who would be looking after the interest of the phase and stages during the construction, ensuring that we combine the technical aspects from the Ministry of Works as Engineers etc, ensuring that other aspects like the aesthetics, and ensuring all the elements work together.”

“We believe we must get it right,” he remarked.

The senior government minister also challenged claims made by the NNP before the party was booted out of office that it had conducted consultations on the Seamoon Cultural Centre.

He said the records available to the new administration reveal that no consultation was done on the project.

“Mr. Speaker, I can report to the Honourable House that as far as our records (are) concerned, no consultations were done, none whatsoever – we have no evidence of it – if it did occur we have not seen it. We have done our own research and investigation to see whether or not there was some public consultation but as far as we are concerned no consultations were done.

“Mr. Speaker, the consultations that are required for such a project requires professionals, elements of the community and everybody to be brought into one room – not a political consultation.

“No serious consultation at the Department of Culture ever existed in relation to this project which is key because if we are going to reconstruct such an element.”

Minister Redhead also took issue with the former administration of Dr. Keith Mitchell for designing a plan that seemed to suggest that it was just building a pavilion and just a number of empty spaces on the project site.

He said the then regime had made mention of erecting a facility to house a skills training centre but that was clearly not included in the design.

“So if you did consult some of the errors and mistakes or deliberate attempts to leave out things that we didn’t see, it should not have existed or at least in part it should not have been so blatant where you did not do an Environmental Impact Assessment,” he added.

Minister Redhead told Parliament that in the redesign of the project a theatre has been included.

“This was not there before – we are now including it,” he said.

The minister indicated that the newlook facility at Seamoon will have places to assist in training and development in drama that can accommodate just over 100 participants.

“We have included a room for dance where we would teach people how to dance. We have included a music lab, we have included a visual arts room where people are going to be doing painting or leaning the components of painting.

“We (are) going to teach that and they themselves are going to produce art. We have included also a room for studying culture. What we inherited were just largely empty spaces with room for Food Courts. So it was just to eat-a-food.”

Minister Redhead said the new Congress government believes that if the Seamoon project is done right then it can transform the cultural and economic lives of the people of St Andrew North-east, the entire Big Parish and the entire country on the whole.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the redesigned project will be put out for tendering by the Congress government.

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