The New Cas­tries

DREAM­ERS, VI­SION­AR­IES AND THINKERS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Peter Josie

Last week we agreed that ac­ces­si­bil­ity and ser­vice ought to be the main fea­tures of the new Cas­tries and that green open spa­ces are to fea­ture promi­nently in the new de­sign. To achieve this, the city needs to be ex­panded north, east and south. Last week we dealt with the ac­ces­si­bil­ity and sug­gested the open­ing of new tun­nels at Morne Dudon (up­per Mi­coud Street), at up­per Bridge Street to Cul-de-Sac and via Balata/Ca­cao/Gi­rard to Cul-de-Sac east. We pro­posed a ma­jor ring road along the city’s eastern and south­ern boundaries from the new en­vis­aged botanic gar­dens com­menc­ing from La Clery through La Pansee along the con­tour through lower Morne Dudon to Las­tic Hill then west by an over­head pass through to Marc­hand Road, Pavee and lower Morne Road to La Toc.

We con­tinue this week with a plan to re­place the ex­cuse called George the Fifth Park, also known as The Gar­dens. This space has been bas­tardized by the large con­crete basin at its north­east­ern end dug by name­less for­eign en­gi­neers. It’s time to con­vert the in­sult into an ad­van­tage to bet­ter serve the new city. First, The Gar­dens should be fully opened to traf­fic by widen­ing the link road which runs through it from Chaussee Road to Con­way. Sec­ond, a prop­erly de­signed three-storey

(Part Three - Fi­nal)

bus ter­mi­nal and ven­dors’ ar­cade should be erected for com­muters ar­riv­ing in the city from the north and north-east of the is­land. Third, a sec­ond bus ter­mi­nal of sim­i­lar de­sign ought to be con­structed in the vicin­ity of the present Vieux Fort bus stand at Foux-a-Chaud. This is to serve com­muters ar­riv­ing and de­part­ing from the south, east and west. Fourth, a multi-storey car park should be con­structed near the south­ern bus ter­mi­nal. Fifth, reg­u­lar tram com­mute be­tween th­ese two ter­mi­nals is highly rec­om­mended. Th­ese tram routes ought also to con­nect com­muters from the car park at Con­way as well as the pro­posed new car park, at the junc­tion of Mi­coud Street ex­ten­sion near the Morne Dudon tun­nel and the one near the Vieux Fort bus ter­mi­nal. Th­ese trams should con­nect com­muters to the city cen­tre as well as the two bus ter­mi­nals.

Ex­pe­ri­enced gov­ern­ment plan­ners ought to be au­tho­rized to di­a­logue with the De­vaux fam­ily for the sale and/or do­na­tion of the lands beyond the Folk Re­search Cen­tre to La Pansee and La Clery. Th­ese lands should be trans­formed to new and bet­ter botanic gar­dens. The De­vaux fam­ily made a gen­er­ous gift in arts and cul­ture to the is­land at in­de­pen­dence in 1979. That fam­ily con­tin­ues to show an in­ter­est in all things Saint Lu­cian. It has helped more fam­i­lies rise from poverty than we shall ever know. The De­vaux fam­ily can trace its French an­ces­try and Saint Lu­cian roots back many gen­er­a­tions and there is a book on the fam­ily that may still be avail­able on­is­land.

The new botanic gar­dens should be de­signed to ac­com­mo­date a mini zoo, a three-acre mu­seum plot as well as a five-acre herbal gar­den of rare medic­i­nal plants. It would also be another gift of im­mea­sur­able value if the head of the De­vaux fam­ily would agree to sit with George Theophilus, Michael Chas­tanet, Mrs. Char­main Gar­diner, Mrs. Joyce Des­tang and Mrs. Karolin Trou­bet­zkoy to help source funds for the new gar­dens and bus ter­mi­nals, as well as for the new cul­tural cen­tre. A Cas­tries Trust Fund de­signed by those six wor­thies ought to en­sure the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the vi­sion of the fu­tur­is­tic Cas­tries.

Other green ar­eas could be de­vel­oped on both sides of the Cas­tries River. It is an­tic­i­pated that that river will be canal­ized from up­per Water­works Road to its out­let at Foux-a-Chaud and cov­ered to form a main road serv­ing com­muters in and around the city. George Charles Boule­vard and Marc­hand should be re­built with mod­ern con­do­mini­ums and a replica of ‘le pe­tit Napoleon’ (the name given to the first elected leader of Saint Lu­cia by his early ad­mir­ers) be placed at the cen­tre of the new George Charles Av­enue look­ing to­wards the city cen­tre.

We now turn to the best in­di­vid­u­als to plan, de­sign and im­ple­ment the dream of the new Cas­tries. I rec­om­mend Neville Skeete, Paul Hip­polyte, Cal­ixte George and John Pe­ters as my team lead­ers. I then add Ig­natius Jean (new botanic gar­dens), Hi­lary Beau­soleil and Alexis Felix (ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs, bus ter­mi­nals, cul­tural cen­tre de­sign etc), plus Mrs. King-Joseph and Cromwell Goodridge (tun­nel en­gi­neer­ing, new roads and street ex­ten­sions, in­clud­ing the new ring road etc.). Add two ex­pe­ri­enced fe­male so­ci­ol­o­gists to the team for a new per­spec­tive. Fi­nally, pray earnestly that the thrust to­wards in­di­g­e­niza­tion of this vi­sion of the new Cas­tries pro­ject is not lost on this or any fu­ture im­ple­ment­ing agency.

In the de­sign of the new Cas­tries, com­mut­ing within the city ought to be a breeze. Ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic ought to be dis­cour­aged as much as pos­si­ble. Mini-van own­ers and driv­ers should be en­cour­aged to drop off and pick up com­muters at the bus ter­mi­nals and wait there for new com­muters. Park­ing on the streets of the city should give pri­or­ity to the phys­i­cally chal­lenged and se­nior ci­ti­zens. Spe­cial num­ber plates is­sued by the trans­port board should help iden­tify such per­sons.

We now turn to an as­pect of the vi­sion of the new city that fo­cuses on de­cay­ing pub­lic and pri­vately-owned build­ings in the city. This eye­sore does no-one any good. It’s a long ne­glect wait­ing to be put to eco­nomic use in or­der to bet­ter serve a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

In con­clu­sion it is rec­om­mended that a watch­ful eye be kept on the hill­sides sur­round­ing Cas­tries as th­ese need as much at­ten­tion as the city cen­tre. Much of the waste­water that en­ters the Cas­tries basin orig­i­nates from the sur­round­ing hills. The un­planned and grow­ing con­ges­tion needs to be reg­u­lated and brought un­der plan­ning con­trol. There is also room to cre­ate open green spa­ces on th­ese hill­sides be­fore it’s too late.

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