In­con­ve­nience trou­bles Hope Pas­tures walk­ers

Christo­pher O. Honey­well

Jamaica Gleaner - - ACROSS THE NATION - At­tor­ney-at-law co­honey­well@cw­ja­

FOR SEV­ERAL decades, the se­nior cit­i­zens and res­i­dents of Hope Pas­tures and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties have en­joyed the use of the grounds of the Hope Botanic Gar­dens as the cen­tre­piece of their morn­ing walk and ex­er­cise rou­tine.

It is in­deed one of the more pleas­ant places that can be found in St An­drew for this sort of ac­tiv­ity. Some of our most es­timable se­nior cit­i­zens and pub­lic ser­vants have en­joyed walk­ing the grounds as part of their morn­ing rit­ual.

Sadly, this is no longer the case. The op­er­a­tors of the gar­dens have de­cided to lock off the Hope Pas­tures en­trance to the gar­dens. For the morn­ing walk­ers, they now must use Old Hope Road, through the main gate, to en­ter the gar­dens. Walk­ing that dis­tance in the predawn is sim­ply not vi­able for these se­nior cit­i­zens.

These cit­i­zens are now forced to use the road­ways of Hope Pas­tures for their morn­ing walk. They have to run the gaunt­let of dogs, cars, and buses. Many of these walk­ers are well over 70 years old. Most of them have made stel­lar con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try’s ed­u­ca­tion, health, and other sec­tors. They are now be­ing ef­fec­tively de­nied a sim­ple plea­sure to which they have grown ac­cus­tomed.

Mean­while, within the very gar­dens, va­grants have taken over and are co­hab­it­ing in one of the guard­houses, of all places. They sys­tem­at­i­cally pol­lute and de­spoil the sur­round­ing area with garbage. On any given morn­ing, the gar­dens’ still­ness may be rudely dis­turbed, with bel­li­cose voices act­ing out some twisted sort of do­mes­tic dis­pute. There is lit­tle to sug­gest that the op­er­a­tors of the gar­dens have taken any ef­fec­tive steps to block these per­sons from abus­ing the gar­dens.

I must point out that un­der the Pub­lic Gar­dens Reg­u­la­tions Act, the oc­cu­pa­tion of the gar­dens, as I have de­scribed it by these va­grants, is noth­ing short of a crime.

The op­er­a­tors, how­ever, seem none too con­cerned about that. They are more in­ter­ested in lock­ing out our goodly se­nior cit­i­zens. Is this re­ally the kinder, gentler so­ci­ety that we pro­claim we are striv­ing for? Is this in keep­ing with our much-talked-about Vi­sion 2030? I think not. I think it is time we re­vise this de­ci­sion.

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