Posted on 07 April 2017.
By B. Roach
The Davy Hill community can now revel in what was called a ‘historic moment’, the reality of a Community Centre, which all say will be a welcome and long in coming one for the area. This was cause for some ceremony on March 26, 2017.
In mid-August last year, the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) announced the recommencement of work on the Davy Hill Community Resource Centre project after having awarded the completion contract of the building to Ryan Investments Ltd.
Once begun this was to have been completed in twelve weeks as this was part of the effort by the BNTF on the ground to complete that and other sub-projects before CDBs terminal disbursement date on December 31. 2016, under the BNTF eight project cycle.
On Sunday afternoon of March 26, past, a gathering of mostly Davy Hill residents, businesses, BNTF and government officials, to include Premier Romeo, gathered in a ceremony to mark the opening of the Resource Centre.
There were several speakers all who spoke of different and supporting terms of what made up the centre and its functions that will be undertaken there ready to go and in the future. A vision stated on the program of the official handover states: “a multi-purpose centre that facilitates a range of activities that promotes learning, sustainable livelihoods, disaster mitigation, socialization, healthy lifestyles, fundraising and revenue generation.”
Emile Duberry, a PDM election campaign candidate is Vice President and longtime associated with the Davy Hill Action Group officiated as chairperson at the official handover ceremony of the building. He welcomed, “all to our ceremony this afternoon in this historic occasion where we are witnessing the opening of the Davy Hill Community Centre.” He added: “The residents’ of Davy Hill welcome this community centre and there are different uses that are planned for this community centre and even before its inception, the community of Davy Hill through the community group was aware of what they want for the community.”
Continuing his brief welcome and opening remarks Duberry said, speaking for the community: “…we see this as uplifting for the community… in Davy Hill we see this community building as a way of bringing people together… at this time we are very proud and glad that we have this building to our use,” he said, explaining, “There are many activities that are planned for this building, I don’t know how we’re going to get through them but there are lots of activities…We expect to see graduates coming out of this building through our night classes that we would have.”
Duberry said in concluding his explanation: “And I think one of the program that is coming up that will be happening very soon is the baking program,” in which he said he was sure the men would be delighted.”
Duberry spoke following the singing of the national song by Teona Aymer, president of the Davy Hill Action Group (DAG), and an opening prayer.
Mr. Mervin Browne, BNTF project manager in Montserrat gave an overview of the project. “The BNTF is a CDB grant funded program which is responsible for tackling poverty reduction programs throughout the Caribbean region,” he said, citing that, “This sub-project the Davy Hill Community Resource Centre commenced in October 2014 and it was completed this month March.”
Browne said the project had delays for various reasons, “but despite the delays and the obstacles, the BNTF office was determined to complete this very important community project which we have been working on for more than three years.”
Confirming Duberry’s explanation of the Centre’s functions, he noted: “in addition use will be empowered through skills training which will lead to increased economic activity and micro enterprise within the community – it will also be used as a hurricane shelter.”
He pointed out that the facility has a total of 1,900 sq. ft. of usable space which will house a computer training room, a kitchen, male and female toilets and bathrooms, meeting hall, lobby, office and a store room. Constructed on half an acre of land which is owned by the GoM.
He said confirming again Duberry’s explanation, that part of the human resource development aspect of the BNTF program, “a baking and agro processing skills training project will be conducted in this facility, beginning on the 10th of April which is also funded under the BNTF 7 skills training human resource development component.”
There were brief remarks that followed. Premier Romeo said that he had been calling for this centre for seventeen plus years which would have been before he contested the national general elections. “It’s said that good things come to those who wait and today this is a reality as we look around at this beautiful multi-purpose building,” as he also mentions, “that will host a range of activities and will promote learning, sustainable livelihoods, healthy lifestyles, social gatherings, fund raisers and be the central community meeting place.”
“I expect that recreational space will be properly managed and maintained,” he said, expanding on how the facility is useful, he said: “we will be able to facilitate lectures, concerts, plays, indoor outdoor games, food and beverage preparation as mentioned, trainings and eventually provide that sort of training for our youths to assist them in gainful employment later on in their lives. The centre will be a home to the youth in this community for sure”
He said he would take the opportunity to commend the Davy Hill Action Group in the pursuit of this outcome here today, reminding of “of a departed member of the group Mrs. Denise Philip who would have stood here with us today to commemorate this historical moment.”
The Hon. Delmaude Ryan Minister of Education, Health and Social Services, whose picture appears on the program turning the soil to start construction of the building, was represented by Hon Gregory Willock, Parliamentary Secretary. In his brief which he said “could not be so brief,” declared in his representation he was also speaking for everyone as he feels close to the community also. “…But I have to be a little extra and I’m saying to you that Davy Hill is one community that holds a special place in my heart. And you guys know I’m not just here as a member of the ruling administration, I’m not just here as a member of the parliament, I’m here as a member that will be committed to helping, working, serving in the areas that you would want me to serve in,…” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Hon. Easton Taylor Farrell was a final speaker, although he had substituted in delivering the opening prayer and performed the dedication of the facility in the absence of Pastor Simon Peter Buffonge, DAG trustee of Davy Hill, and Pastor Kellar MFarlane of the Davy Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church.
While introducing the Opposition Leader, Duberry noted that he as Minister of Agriculture and Lands made the lands which will allow for a mini sporting court, available for the facility to be constructed. Dub: erry informed the gathering“…at the beginning of this building when we were thinking about it we didn’t have any land and I remember the Honorable Easton Farrell came to our meeting and – we said that we need some land. “OK I believe I could work out something so that we can afford this land – So we got two lots for the Community Centre and this we are grateful to Mr. Farrell.
Farrell in his brief remarks confirmed what Duberry said. “I vividly remember that on this site stood some wooden buildings which were used for many persons during the height of the volcanic crisis… I recall the numerous times, numerous calls, numerous emails I received from the project officer Mr. Browne,” who insisted even though he told him the land was there.
He said Browne would continue to call informing that there were buildings on the land. “I was tired I had to do, something. Eventually we demolished the buildings and then Mr. Browne stopped calling me,” he concluded to applause.
President Teona Aymer gave a vote of thanks and directed the gathering as well to the Acknolwedgements on the back of the program. This proceeded the cutting a ribbon by the Premier, group pictures and a tour of the facility to include refreshments.
In 2014 the Caribbean Development Bank approved the award of a civil works contract for the sub project enhancement of community facilities and services delivery at Davy Hill for the construction of the Davy Hill Resource Centre. By December 2014 the main structure of the building was completed. However, December 31st that year was the final date for disbursement of funds by CDB for the BNTF six cycle under which this sub project was being administered and so CDB had to bring the project to a halt. In order to continue CDB required a new submission of the sub project to meet its normal approval procedures, whereupon approval allowed the project to continue from August last year. According to Montserrat BNTF manager, Mervyn Browne the project must be completed by June 31, this year.