As Government prepares to sell the former Louis Lynch Secondary School building on Whitepark Road to the West India Biscuit Company Limited (WIBISCO), at least two senators have questioned whether the property is safe enough to be brought back into regular use.
In 2006, following years of complaints about environmental issues said to have emanated from the chemicals used at a nearby laundromat, and reports that several former students and teachers at the school had died from cancer and other health issues as a result, the Ministry of Education closed down the school and transferred students and teachers to other secondary schools.
“I think the building needs to be cleaned up properly before sale and I don’t think it should be sold to WIBISCO because they already have a large property,” said Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn who disclosed that one of his nephews had attended Louis Lynch Secondary and had complained of health issues, but saw an improvement in his health when he was transferred to the Coleridge and Parry School.
“I still do not understand why it was not publicly offered for sale. I think it should be tested again and the results made public once this is done.”
Senator Dr Christopher Maynard said he had first-hand knowledge of the environmental problems that plagued the school.
“As a medical professional, I saw some of the reports done by the Environmental Protection Department when they examined the school, because there were several lawsuits filed. But if you close a school and reallocate 700 students and teachers, we need to tell people the real problem. I don’t know the current state of the property, but if some of the issues identified have not been cleared up, we are doing our people a disservice by not letting them know the truth. So, make those documents available so we can feel comfortable knowing that whoever occupies that property again will be safe.”
Leader of Government Business, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott, explained: “WIBISCO made an offer, the Environmental Protection Department said the building was safe to use from an environmental perspective, and other people had made offers on it.”
Deputy President of the Senate, Rudolph Greenidge, said Barbadians were fully aware of the issues at the Louis Lynch Secondary School over the years and WIBISCO was subjected to the same environmental tests because it was not far away from the school property.
In justifying the sale, he said: “Government had three choices: refurbish it and use it as Government offices, but then we would get people complaining it is a sick building and no one would want to work there; keep it closed and be accused of wastage, or sell it. Now take your pick.” (DH)