Residents of the Gray’s Green community have made their disapproval clear as it pertains to the Knuckle Block sports and community complex being used to house the St. John’s Magistrates’ Court, even temporarily.
However, the Minister with responsibility for the court, Steadroy Benjamin, believes that these concerns are “unjustified and unwarranted”.
Benjamin is of the view that placing the court at Knuckle Block, even for a short time, could assist in bringing law and order to that area.
“The court will be there for a short period of time while the court on High Street is being repaired. As a matter of a fact, having that institution where it is could help as a deterrent for crimes, generally speaking,” Benjamin said.
The Knuckle Block facility, a gift from the Government of China, was originally built as a multi-purpose center and a basketball court for the community.
However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works Clarence Pilgrim recently stated that the facility will be restricted for the use of the court, giving raise to concerns by the members of the community.
In speaking with OSERVER media, one resident of Gray’s Farm questioned the decision made by the government saying: “Knuckle Block wasn’t built for that purpose and they are going to have to knock down this, put up that and change everything…they are not doing their job.”
Over a week ago, the Senate Minority Leader and opposition United Progressive Party candidate for St. John’s Rural West in the 2018 general elections, Richard Lewis, shared similar concerns saying that residents of that constituency have been cheated by the decision taken by the authorities.
He said the government knew long ago that there was a problem with the High Street building and could have looked around for another facility to temporarily house the courtrooms.
He further expressed his concerns for the community by stating that utilizing the facility for a purpose other than its original intended use would raise several issues, one being that the already bad traffic congestion is also sure to considerably worsen as a result.
The official handing over of the Grays Green Community Center, from the Chinese Government to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, is set to to take place today.