The Skateboarding Association of Barbados (SBA) is refuting the Ministry of Agriculture’s account of the circumstances leading to the recent demolition of a skate park at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.
In a statement issued through the Barbados Government Information Service last Friday, the ministry said officials touring the lands at Graeme Hall a few weeks ago had discovered an illegal structure which was being used as a skating rink.
The ministry revealed that workmen from the Soil Conservation Unit had demolished the structure on the same day, and it issued a reminder to the public that its grounds should not be used as a thoroughfare, or as a dumping site.
However, the SBA Monday issued its own statement on the matter, claiming that not only was the structure in existence since 2010, but it was built with the ministry’s blessing, albeit not in writing.
“We began transformation of the spot in 2010, documenting the entire process through photos and video documentaries. The spot was cleaned up, painted, and maintained for the last seven years. It was during this period that we had our first interaction with officials from the ministry to seek permission to place a metal obstacle in the ground. While permission was granted, nothing was put in writing,” the association said.
“The Ministry of Agriculture has been aware of the site over the past seven years. They have even hand delivered mail to us from the Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture Stephen Lashley. Ministry vehicles regularly traverse the many paths surrounding the former park and have engaged us in discussions on many occasions. The skate park was also clearly visible from many of the access roads throughout the compound.”
In expressing shock at the demolition of the recreational facility, the SBA revealed that as recently as March 23, two committee members met with ministry officials to discuss the erection of a gate, and were given the assurance that the gate was meant to keep out vehicles and not the skateboarders.
While stressing they had no written permission to operate on the premises, the group expressed disappointment that, at the very least, they were not afforded an opportunity to recover their expensive equipment.
“On the morning of May 26, we were contacted by a resident of the area who told us that the park was being demolished. This came as a shock to us. Up to that point we had a good rapport with the ministry and not once during our seven years there had we received any complaints about our skateboarding activities.
“Ministry officials have even praised us for ‘doing something positive’ with ourselves and ‘not bothering anyone’. The least we expected was that because of the existing relationship, we would have been given the opportunity to remove our equipment. This skateboarding equipment was worth tens of thousands of dollars and was used for demonstrations, community outreach and contests,” the SBA said.