Story and photos by Theresa Goodwin
Members of the Bendals Community Group are raising the alarm over what appears to be geographical sampling or soil testing in an area which is of historical significance to them – the Greencastle Hill.
They claim that over the past few weeks, workers with a Chinese firm have been spotted grading a particular area and taking samples of the rocks found.
Deputy Chairman of the Community Group, Ewart Isaac, said the activity was discovered by members over two weeks ago and, so far, they have not been able to ascertain whether or not permission was granted to the company.
He said heavy duty equipment was also removed from the site after himself and others blew the whistle by raising the matter on the airwaves.
The drilling and soil-testing activity is taking place on the northern side of Greencastle Hill in close proximity to Antigua Masonry Products’ quarry and another facility operated by Sammy’s Concrete Services.
Isaac said he has made several failed attempts to contact parliamentary representative for the area, Sir Molywn Joseph, to find out what exactly is taking place in the area and who granted permission.
He said he took the matter to the media and was eventually contacted by the minister through a third party.
“The minister directed me to the Public Works Department if I wanted to find out more about what is going on,” Isaac said.
Isaac said he had not managed to reach anyone at the department with information. He continued that the group is particularly concerned because of the size of the parcel of land and the significance it holds to the community.
“Long before the Haitian Revolution in 1804, our people in 1701 rebelled against the plantation owner Samuel Martin and they killed him because he refused to give them their Christmas holiday.
“And in that spirit, we are saying that we are not pleased with the fact that Chinese are now coming here and the community is not informed,” Isaac said.
The rebellion against Major Samuel Martin is said to have taken place at Greencastle Estate, on the hill.
Members of the community group and several others have been lobbying for years to get Greencastle Hill, located in Bendals, declared a protected area because of its rich history.
The area is home to some important historical treasures including an Amerindian ceremonial site and the tomb of Leeward Islands Governor, Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin.
Atop the hill also lie megaliths which some believe to be remnants of an ancient observatory. The site in question is not in close proximity to the megaliths.
Observer media was treated to a tour of the area yesterday, guided by members of the Bendals Community Group. We drove and trekked through a good portion of hill which looked like it was freshly cleared; this was evident by the tractor marks which were still on the ground.
Along the path there were also a number of boreholes and samples of rocks piled up on each side.
The term borehole is used by engineers and environmental consultants to describe different types of holes drilled as part of a geo-technical investigation or environmental site.
This includes holes advanced to collect soil samples, water samples or rock cores.
Observer media tried without success to reach MP Molwyn Joseph and Public Works Minister Lennox Weston to verify what is taking place in the area.
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