-Chair­man

Stabroek News - - EDITORIAL -

No of­fi­cial re­quest has been made by the owner of the his­toric Freema­sons’ Hall for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to ex­e­cute needed re­pairs to the fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to the Chair­man of the Na­tional Trust Board Len­nox Her­nan­dez.

“They have never ap­proached us… we have no of­fi­cial re­quest… in writ­ing or oth­er­wise,” Her­nan­dez told Stabroek News re­cently, while stress­ing that the Na­tional Trust does not own the build­ing and, there­fore, is not re­spon­si­ble for its up­keep.

Dis­trict Grand Mas­ter Dood­nauth Per­saud had told this this news­pa­per re­cently that be­cause of the his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of the build­ing, the Trust was re­spon­si­ble for it but did not want to give any money to ex­e­cute the re­pairs.

The Trust has since clar­i­fied that it does not own the build­ing and there­fore is not re­spon­si­ble for its main­te­nance. Based on avail­able in­for­ma­tion, the Union Lodge is the owner of the build­ing.

Speak­ing to Stabroek News, Her­nan­dez made it clear that the own­ers, “who­ever they are,” have con­trol of Freema­sons’ Hall and, there­fore, are re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing that it is re­paired and main­tained.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that he has seen first­hand the de­plorable state of the build­ing, he said that it would take mil­lions of dol­lars to ex­e­cute the much needed re­pairs but noted that reg­u­lar re­pairs would have pre­vented the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

He said that the re­quired ex­per­tise and ma­te­ri­als are avail­able right here in Guyana.

He ex­plained that Freema­sons’ Hall, which is his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant be­cause of its age and cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance to Guyana, is not a gazetted build­ing but rather one of about 100 struc­tures and build­ings on a pro­vi­sional list. He said that when a build­ing is gazetted, it is ap­proved by the Par­lia­ment and be­comes known as a na­tional mon­u­ment.

Her­nan­dez ex­plained that some peo­ple do not like to have their build­ings gazetted be­cause they think that Na­tional Trust is “tak­ing it over” but de­pend­ing on the sig­nif­i­cance of the build­ing, the Trust would in­ter­vene.

“If it is a re­ally im­por­tant build­ing, like St. Ge­orge’s, we are gonna find a way to gazette [it]… I wouldn’t say a build­ing like Freema­sons’ Hall we would push for it. But what is there about Freema­sons’ Hall that makes it im­por­tant other than its age? So we have to look at a num­ber of things be­fore we say, ‘Okay, you don’t want to do it but we will do it,’” he said, while mak­ing it clear that the roof of the build­ing is not of Dutch de­sign as was stated by Per­saud.

He said that Per­saud was also in­cor­rect when he told this news­pa­per that the Trust did not want to give money for the re­pair works as the Lodge never ap­proached it.

And while he noted that there are non-gazetted build­ings that the Trust has helped to re­pair over the years, he said this de­pended on the avail­abil­ity of money. “…We have bud­geted for this year since last year, so there could be no funds for any other thing other than what we bud­geted for, so no­body can’t come and say ‘We want money’ and we can say ‘Okay, we will give you.’ A re­quest has to come in and that re­quest we will prob­a­bly look at it next year,” he said.

Asked what would hap­pen if the owner wanted to de­mol­ish a build­ing such as the Freema­sons’ Hall be­cause of the lack of money to re­ha­bil­i­tate it, Her­nan­dez said that the Trust will as­sist if the build­ing is recog­nised as so im­por­tant that it should not be de­stroyed.

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