It has been a few months since Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM) completed the major work on the Friars Hill Road and the Sir George Walter Highway. As far as we can ascertain, they are now merely doing some mopping up operations, and should be out of here shortly. Whew! To say that we are less than pleased with the work done is putting it mildly. True, the road resurfacing was decent, but as any good workman knows, the finish is the thing. And the finish on most of the areas that were rehabilitated, leaves a lot to be desired. The edges for a goodly portion of the new roads are sharp and unsightly. The black tar/oil that they’ve put in the ditches at the roadsides will eventually be overrun with grass. The culverts are simply horrid, and the cement that was plastered on top of the cement-bag drains, will be an eyesore for years to come. So too will be the cement-bag drains themselves. And not to mention the unpaved pedestrian walkways at the sides of the roads. They merely filled them in with asphalt. For shame!
Meanwhile, the roundabouts are another matter. Apart from the fact that we believe that they could have been more impressively constructed, they are still bereft of any greenery and assorted plants and shrubs. In most countries around the world, roundabouts are oases of sorts, green spaces in a concrete jungle, and they are well kept with picturesque lights and flag poles. Apart from the roundabout at the Blue Waters/Cedar Grove intersection, our roundabouts are an eyesore. No creativity. No imagination. No civic pride.
Of course, since the government might be in a bit of a financial pickle, perhaps the roundabouts could be adopted by, or leased, to various civic bodies or big businesses for periods of up to two/three years. Those bodies would be responsible for their upkeep, and perhaps could place tasteful ads thereon. They would need smart-looking chains running through poles around the perimeters, charming antique lanterns, fancy stonework, and a profusion of plants and shrubs. The colourful flora would be the piece de resistance. Ah, yes . . . It can be done.
Then there is Independence Avenue. This was supposed to be one of our most attractive thoroughfares. It has the roundabout (in a state of disrepair) outside the eastern entrance to Government House, the cenotaph, historic Country Pond (a national disgrace), the Michael’s Mount lighthouse, the historic, and now defunct, Roman Catholic Cathedral, (also a national disgrace), the famous (run down) Antigua Recreation Grounds, and so on and so forth. With the exception of the new Treasury Building, The APUA building, the refurbished Government House, the Ministry of Agriculture building and a few other buildings going from north to south, Independence Avenue is a mess! Broken sidewalks, broken park benches, broken lights in the cenotaph space, and so on and so forth. We are certainly better than that!
We do not expect this administration to do much by way of aesthetic improvements to our dearly-beloved city. In seven years, they have done precious little, never mind the hifalutin-sounding bodies set up to see to the upgrade and rehabilitation of St. John’s. The truth is, not much appears to be happening when it comes to the decrepit appearance of our city. Few people seem to care, and that is quite sad!
Perhaps with a new administration we will see a serious and sustained effort to significantly rehabilitate St. John’s – restoring it to its quaint Old World charm, complete with fine dining, casino gambling, and assorted nightlife attractions. Yes, downtown St John’s could take on a whole life of its own at nights. Of course, many of the existing colonial era buildings (see the Spanish Main Inn on Independence Avenue) need to be tastefully restored, not torn down, and so on and so forth.
But we need men and women with a vision. After all, where there is no vision, St John’s as we once knew it, will perish.
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