Community group wants PM’s intervention

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The John Hughes community group, seeking to start construction on a U.S. $50,000 development at the Wallings Reservoir, is now seeking an audience with Prime Minister Gaston Browne to discuss the future of the project.
The group secured the funds through a grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to upgrade the reservoir which is one of the many historical sites in Antigua and Barbuda.
However, the group has been waiting for months to get approval from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Refica Attwood, project manager for the Wallings Nature Reserve Project, said the group also launched a petition which will be circulated to members of the public.
“We need the prime minister to visit Wallings, I will take the day off and not go to work. We are creating employment opportunities for over 25 people. We have crossed our T’s and dotted our I’s, we are ready,” Attwood said during an interview on Connecting with Dave on Thursday.
Attwood said, if approved, the nature reserve project will be the first ever development programme to be run by a community group.
The development plan includes wheelchair accessible bathrooms, adequate parking, ranger checking stations, marked hiking trails and a number of other features.
A business proposal for the project was submitted to the ministry in November 2017 and again last month.
“We will be constructing the bathroom facilities first and creating a parking facility because the road is in a very bad condition. Half of the money is already sitting in our bank accounts and we are still waiting,” Attwood said.
When OBSERVER media, spoke to Jedidiah Maxime, director of agriculture in early January, he informed our newsroom that the community group was asked to present some additional information about their business proposal, which was the reason for the hold-up.
Attwood said the requested documents were re-submitted in late January, however, they are yet to receive a feedback from the ministry.
Efforts to contact the director for a follow-up on the matter failed, as calls to his phone were unanswered.

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