Campaign Group Writes Objection Letter To MPs

June 25, 2015

Campaign group Take Back Our Park has written to MPs and Senators urging them to demand the immediate suspension of work on a new Parks headquarters in the middle of the Botanical Gardens until an independent review of the project is conducted.

“Government is pressing ahead with work on the site which will eventually include two large two-story buildings, a 20ft water tower, a truck filling station, a truck washing station, a paint workshop, a training room and carpentry storage. It will also be the mustering station for up to 120 Parks staff,” the group said.

In the letter, TBOP says: “We are appealing directly to you for support to stop the widely contested and questionable development happening in Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens belong to the people of Bermuda and are considered by many to be Bermuda’s national park.

“It is unacceptable that this development is being allowed to proceed when there was clearly a lack of public consultation at the onset and serious concerns have come to light regarding the actual Planning approval as critical documents such as the environmental impact study and alternative locations considered have not been found in the Planning file.”

The Group says the initial planning advert in the now defunct Bermuda Sun omitted that it was the Botanical Gardens, listing it as 169 South Road, as well as the fact that the area is zoned as an environment conservation area.

A petition [link here] against the plan has raised more than 3,000 signatures.

TBOP

The letter adds: “Our PATI requests for the environmental impact, noise impact and visual impact studies came back with ‘not on file’. The absence of any environment impact study raises further doubts as to the validity of the actual Planning approval process for this project.

“Also our PATI request to see “the numerous studies that have been conducted to find a more suitable location for the maintenance yard” came back with ‘not on file’.

“We have submitted another PATI request to seek the decision behind this and are awaiting a response. Common sense dictates that the Botanical Gardens was never the appropriate place for a maintenance yard in the first place.”

The letter continues: “Incomprehensively, 20-plus Parks Maintenance staff have been left to work in inadequate and inferior conditions for over a decade when either their existing facility could have been renovated or alternative locations identified and made available sooner.

“Why does providing these hard working people the proper working accommodations they deserve, have to be inclusive with the development being in the middle of the Island’s only Botanical Gardens?

“An even more concerning aspect to the concept behind this development is the fact that this Department, Parks Maintenance, has been earmarked by Government as a candidate for outsourcing. Meaning that this irreversible damage to one of the country’s important assets might all be for nothing.

“If in fact, as it has come to light recently that the plan for this site is to be the HQ for all of Parks, then the means that the Bermudian public were misled about this intentions for this site from the onset.

“Contrary to the claim that this project is a simply replacement of what was there a decade ago, the water tower and the planned new water truck filling station, training room and thru-way from Berry Hill Road to South Road are all new additions. On top of this, there will be two large, 30’ and 18’ buildings that will dominate the entire area.

“Given the numerous questions surrounding the validity of the Planning process, the lack of public consultation and the importance of the Botanical Gardens to the people of Bermuda, we request your support in having this project put on hold until an independent review is conducted and the public have been properly advised.

“It is Government’s responsibility to ensure that our natural resources and heritage are preserved and protected for the next generation. Our children deserve a better legacy than this.”

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Category: All, Environment, News

Comments (94)

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  1. Wendy S says:

    I’m glad this group is fighting the development because soon there won’t be anything left to save

    • Rock Dweller says:

      This is quite a disturbing read and really makes me really question the integrity of the civil servants who came up with this idea in the first place. It sounds like they felt entitled to do whatever they wanted with the gardens. I feel sorry for the staff that have to work for these people. Sounds like aren’t being treated with respect. Puts a whole new perspective on a project that’s already hated by most.

  2. Greenie says:

    I would like to meet the bright spark that came up with this ingenious plan, hey lets put a large depot in the middle of our top tourist attraction. Hopefully that person is no longer working for Government after this

    • hmmm says:

      Probably the same bright spark that wanted to put the hospital in a large chunk of the BG.

      • Smh says:

        I thought Parks were supposed to look after and improve our parks? They can’t even do their job now, the whole place is in shambles and is a disgrace for visitors. Based on that alone, they should not be allowed to do this. The whole thing should npbe outsourced then we wouldn’t need any of this. Problem solved. Why does Parks need thier own maintenence yard when there’s already a maintenence yard at the Quarry????

    • Accurate says:

      There was a large maintenance facility/depot there for close on 40 years which gradually became obsolete – were you blind or not born yet? This smells of NIMBY. Get over it. And by the way just because you may live near it doesn’t make it YOUR park. It belongs to all of us because we all pay for it.

      • Get a life says:

        Oh so a large new truck depot in the middle of our largest park whe. We’re trying to revitalize tourism makes sense. And the only problem with that are the neighbours….got it!

      • Joe Malone says:

        Outsource Parks

    • larry says:

      What difference would meeting the bright spark make? U want to see who u csn hate or who ucan thank? Do. U really want to meet them o r u just talking? I worked there n that space was being used for the same reasons, its only just being upgraded just like kemh!

  3. Wendy S says:

    I’m glad people are fighting this because soon there won’t be anything left for us to save. I hope for all our sakes and more importantly for our grandkids sake that Government stop this whole project.

    • larry says:

      If u look around there is plenty of open space left both private n public! Check the ariel view when u next fly in or out of bda! Or when the news cameras show videos of the island from above.

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Are you out of your mind ?

        Photos of Bermuda from satellites and space shuttles at any altitude show a completely overdeveloped island white with concrete. The only recognizable green spaces are the golf courses.

  4. Terry says:

    Makes you wonder.
    Hmnnn…….

  5. Double D says:

    I thought this was already a brownfield site in which there was previous development.

    How much of the actual Gardens have been built upon?

    • Smh says:

      This is civil servant logic at it best. Read the article, it says there never should have been a maintenace yard there in the first place. I for one would like to see a childrens play area or a cricket field for kids to play on there with bench for the family to watch and enjoy. A large truck depot and parks HQ are absolutely the last thig. Bermudians want to see there.

      • Gingerbread man says:

        Ummm, The TBOP folks said there never should have been a depot there. It is obvious that would be their stance. There has been a depot there for decades and I can honestly say growing up and playing there it did not bother me one iota. That being said I would rather see a play ground there, but there is no way a cricket pitch could fit there. Parks in urban settings usually have similar sites in them.

        • Tourist Destination? says:

          Read what the tourists said about the Botanical Gardens now and let me know if you think a depot there makes a lot of sense. Funny how you tell which posters are civil servants.

        • Get a life says:

          Ha sorry but that’s funny. Everbody puts truck depots in the middle of there parks. Its OK really, we should do it too. Itll be fun to watch tourists get run over. we could sell tickets to watch us work on the trucks. Free labor

        • Get a Life says:

          What’s wrong with the W&E maintenance yard at the Quarry. Seems like the most obvious place. I heard that Parks don’t “like” the W&E guys which is why they don’t want to work there. Doesn’t seem like a good reason to go ahead with this development

    • Terry says:

      That is beside the point Double D.
      Your ‘cups’ might be running over but just the shear size of this water tower takes away from the serenity of the grounds.

      Spent 50 years walking those grounds. Peacefull, pleasant clean of litter and dog sheet.

      A building project for monies and contracted.

      Who is the contractor.

      Shalom and may the Rubber Tree always be a welcome sight.

  6. Say what? says:

    This whole thing should be stopped. We’ve got the America’s Cup coming and we’re spending millions of dollars each year trying to get tourism back on track and then Government does something stupid like this. That part of the Gardens should be used for something tourists and locals can enjoy not for Governments workers to use as an office. I hope the OBA grow a pair and put a stop to this lark

    • Arthur says:

      Self entitlement at it’s best.

      • hmmm says:

        Common sense…Tourists go to the Botanical Gardens…..oh and on the left is the giant yard and Parks department offices and maintenance yard.

        • Rock Dweller says:

          The whole thing is outrageously short sighted and ill conceived. For them to be putting a yard back in there just shows that the civil servants involved don’t even have common sense or basic reasoning. They want what they want and don’t care what the consequences are. Maybe it is time to privatize Parks

  7. watching says:

    I guess because this is OBA stronghold, the government felt they could proceed with it with no fallout.

    • Double D says:

      The plans were submitted and approved in 2012.

      • Not the sharpest tools says:

        Thats what makes this worse. This is a PLP plan so why aren’t the OBA stopping it now that there is all this uproar? No public consulation? No environmental plan?

      • Captaininfamouss says:

        They were approved yes, but they were only advertised as 169 South Road … NOT the Botanical Gardens

        • Foxy Lady says:

          Really? Sorry but that just can’t be true. Was there any other notices made to the public? Isn’t that against the planning rules? Isn’t the whole point of advertising to alert the public to what’s happening?

      • Terry says:

        So what your saying is it is the PLP’s fault?

        • Get a life says:

          Well theres no arguing with that. Sorry but the parks belong to everyone in Bermuda not just the civil servants. What that type of attitude and sheeplike behaviour I’m afraid to know which dept you work in. Seriously, drop that chip off your shoulder

    • Greenie says:

      This seems to be the only thing that makes sense. The MP sure hasn’t done them any favours

  8. watching says:

    Where is MP Craig Cannonier on the issue?

    • Captaininfamouss says:

      LOL!

    • Impressive says:

      riding a horse or something

    • Terry says:

      Cleaning up the old Bermuda stone near Black Watch Pass,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,…..Bawahaaaaaa

  9. Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

    I know my opinion won’t be popular but… I just see this as a non-issue.

    There was a facility there before, this is just a rebuild which, hopefully, should be more efficient.

    It’s the botanical gardens, no one really noticed what was there before, just plant around it again and let’s all move on to more important things.

    • Captaininfamouss says:

      It is a slight rebuild but there was never the prospect of having about 120 staff there……with trucks, lorries, cars etc etc

      • seascape says:

        I heard that the complaint was started by someone who purchased or moved into a neighbouring property. if it was always there and they are improving it, I don’t see the issue.

        • Gingerbread man says:

          Yup, As far as I know it is a close neighbour who is the driving force. Im sorry, if you have a pool and tennis courts to look at on the other side of your property I am not going to feel too much sympathy for you. Also I think the original idea of TBOP was lets have it at Marsh Folly. Those folks who live around Marsh Folly need open space in their neighbourhood. Not to mention for Trucks to get West it is FAR more of a pain to have to come from Marsh Folly than it is from Botanical Gardens.

          • Rock Dweller says:

            Sad. Civil servant entitlement.

            • Gingerbread man says:

              Hi! Can you please let me know what I said has an “entitlement” twinge to it. Thanks.

              • Rock Dweller says:

                Really? You can’t figure out what part of that is entitled. Let me help you, everything after the “I’m sorry….” Let me ask you, where is all this money to add a park at Marsh Folly going to come from? Are you going to take furlough days to make that happen? Get real

          • Ian F says:

            Are u Dir. of Parks?

          • One of the Neighbours says:

            As one of the neighbours of the BG, I am very disappointed to be reading something like this on the internet. I thought part of the code of conduct for civil servants was to be respectful of the people they serve? How would you like it if someone commented about your property on-line? Sorry to disappoint you but this neighbour is not the driving force on anything. I am however, very unimpressed with your behaviour.

            • One of the Neighbours says:

              BTW What department do you work in? I’m sure your PS would be impressed.

            • Ian F says:

              I wouldn’t be impressed either. Just goes to show the self serving mentality and arrogance of some of our Government workers. Explains a lot too

            • Jonathan S says:

              Snap….you just got schooled.

          • Jonathan S says:

            If you heard it from one of your Ace-boys then it must be true.

        • Joe Malone says:

          Time to Outsource Parks

    • Greenie says:

      Have you been to the Botanical Gardens and actually seen the site? That water tank alone dominates the whole place. Unfortunately theres no way they”ll ever be able to hide it. Check it out for yourself. The whole thing is gross

      • Rhonnie aka Blue Familiar says:

        I have taken a look. It’s a building site. Most look like crap until the work is done.

    • Pathetic says:

      Make me laugh….should you giys be out weeding and taking care of our parks instead of posting on-line and taking turns hitting the like button? No wonder everything looks like its falling down and nobody does their job.

  10. Terry says:

    Well Rhonnie your not that Familiar.

    Years ago this and other areas where vehicles were kept was enclosed. Even the workers changing rooms et al that were on the main west path before the Blind Garden were kept clean and unobstructive.

    Call me.

    1-800-have-rum.

  11. metro says:

    what all the fuss about, there has been a maintenance/storage facility there for the parks department for donkey’s years, ah wah de real problem here, you people go lay down.if you look around the rest of the world that you so wanna be like, you will notice things like that are the norm

    • Jonathan S says:

      So ruining one of our top tourist sites is the norm now and we should just lay down? Huh?

  12. Foxy Lady says:

    I’ve just moved back to the island a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t believe what they’d done to the Botanical Gardens. How can they get away with that and there was no public consultation either. no wonder everyone’s signing a petition. Everyone said no to the hospital going in there, why did they think that this would be any different?

    • Terry says:

      $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  13. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    The only reason this caused an outroar is because of the people living in the house next to this place….THERE WAS STUFF BEFORE so this is nothing new….the house occupants just stirred up the pot!

    • Joe Malone says:

      Time to Outsource Parks

    • Jonathan S says:

      You must have heard it from one of Gingerbread’s Ace-buys then. This stuff is funny to read. Thanks for the laugh

  14. Arthur says:

    I agree that Cannonier has shown himself to be weak and easily led, especially regarding this project. If this does go ahead, there will be no living this down for the people that live there. I don’t go to the BG as much as I did when my kids were young but I couldn’t believe how bad that whole area looked. There not going to be any hiding that and it will be forever there for every one to see.

  15. Sara says:

    The Botanical Gardens is a disgrace – there are weeds everywhere, the gate to the main ring has come off its hinges and is lying on the grass, the toilets adjacent to the main car park have been demolished and not rebuilt and the Visitor’s Centre doesn’t seem to function as such any longer.

    • bob13 says:

      And yet we have $70m to spend on bringing the America’s Cup here..!!! :D
      It’s amazing how the simplest of things can’t be done (cutting of weeds – both here and on the sides of the roads) but yet we seem to think we are a top tourist destination and in the ‘big leagues’. It’s a shame that politicians run the country… because if it doesn’t benefit them then they don’t seem to care…

      • Spectator says:

        There’s a return for your investment with the America’s cup…what return for investment does the Botanical Gardens have besides looking nice?! I’ll wait….

        • Ian F says:

          I’d like to know what type of profit loss analysis was done to get this approved? Just looks like another ego stroking project at taxpayer’s expense to me. Time to pull the plug

        • bob13 says:

          Not everything has to be about $$ or maximum return for your investment. There’s a lot to be said for having nice, well manicured green/open spaces…especially on a small island such as ours where they are in short supply. But your small mindedness speaks volumes and shows why we are so far up the creek. Money money money. None of which we have. My point was this: if our elected officials can’t manage to get the grass cut, how can we honestly expect them to run our country. I’m not asking them to cure cancer. Or solve the renewable energy problem. I’m asking them to cut grass. And pull weeds. And trim hedges. On a somewhat regular basis. This stuff isn’t rocket science. We pay parks staff to do this and yet it doesn’t get done. Poor management? No oversight? Where’s your concern with the return on that money spent? Our elected officials suck. They are blanks. Some are bimperts. But that doesn’t stop them from undertaking these grandiose projects and doing photo ops at every opportunity they get. Fiddling whilst Rome burns? It appears to be true… So I’ll say it again… $70m dollars for Anerica’s Cup. Yet no money for simple upkeep of our island. The premier has a BMW. Yet parks don’t have a lawn mower. Wtf?

          • Jeremy Deacon says:

            the BMW was brought in by Ewart Brown … years ago

            • serengeti says:

              yep, the first one (that got trashed by a reckless vandal), and its replacement.

  16. Definitely not the place to build this facility. Instead Government should build it in one of the already over-crowded, densely populated areas in Pembroke.NIMBY syndrome is nauseating.

    • Pathetic says:

      That’s it Larry use that great logic. What’s wrong with the quarry? I might be mistaken but I don’t think the 3000 people that signed the petition nor the ones that protested the hospital being developed there were all neighbours. People who care about Bermuda, go figure that.

      • So Get a Life and Pathetic are defending the NIMBY driven lobby group.With supporters like you guys my work here is done.On a serious note how can you speak on the make up of the people who signed the petition when nobody knows who they are? And just because someone has an opposing view does not in any way mean they too don’t care about Bermuda.How’s that for logic?

        • Get a Life says:

          Hundreds protested when Government wanted to build a hospital there and now thousands have protested by signing a petition. I’m defending the right to preserve the Botanical Gardens. Kudos to who ever started this NIMBY or not, but it says all we need to know about you.

    • Get a life says:

      Larry Larry Larry. Your post says it all. No need to comment.

    • Terry says:

      The old depot at Harrington Sound/Castle Harbor.

      So much land for a water tower.

      Stoopid OBA,

    • A Little Wisdom says:

      I suppose that it would be alright to if we had no building code/planning dept. Lat’s don’t what we want anywhere just because. Is this a wise approach?

  17. KBJ says:

    THE BOTANICAL GARDENS NEEDS PROPER DIRECTION AND SUPERVISION, SO MANY THINGS BEING DONE THERE JUST DONT MAKE SENSE.
    AN AREA JUST SOUTH OF CELEBRATION LANE HAD THE GRASS REMOVED AND SOIL EXPOSED FOR STAFF TO CONTINUE WEEDING WHILST IT COULD SO EASILY HAVE GRASS GROW UP TO THE TREES AS IS SO PREVALENT IN MOST OF THE GARDENS. MUCH BETTER USE COULD BE IN TRIMMING AND WEEDING THE ROSE AREA NEXT TO THE ROAD OR REMOVING THE WEEDS AND GRASS THAT ARE ON THE PATHWAYS AND ROADSIDES.

  18. bermudian says:

    how about you put a depot on the government lawn. there is enough land to mess with at his house that is not used

  19. Triangle Drifter says:

    The only facility that should be built there should house machinery & take care of the needs of those who take care of the BG on a day to day basis.

    This is an ill thought through project of the PLP. The OBA should have put a stop to it long ago.

    Nobody is happy with it.

    • Ian F says:

      I think everyone agrees that the money should be spend on fixing up the building that are falling apart there instead and this nothing more than a wasteful ego stroking project. Absolutely idiotic

  20. The tank is already there. Our former Government had planned this and yes, at the present time, it’s an eyesore. I do believe it can be adorned by having vines crawling all over the tank. Now the driveway; it too can be made safer. As oppose to driving out of the present entrance and into the flow of traffic move it a few feet also allow the traffic to enter from Berry Hill Rd. and exit(or reverse)on the South side.
    In other words, make it a one way road in / out. Of course, most of the hype come from them, (and their associates) that live adjacent to the depot but as mention, “it’s about $ now.”

  21. HeyBye says:

    BG is looking really shabby and rough.
    Once the Portuguese gardeners were sent packing the BG and a matter of fact the whole island’s vegetation is looking really in a mess.
    I remember the days when the BG gardens were meticulously manicured with many exotic plants and flowers. There was always a perfume in the air from all of the many species of flowers.
    The road sides are also looking really bad, instead of using public works personnel they use some sort of Agent Orange poisonous defoliant to spray the vegetation leaving everything in its wake browned to a crisp and dead. Better off leaving the weeds and vegetation in place at least they are green and safe.
    Who knows what this stuff is doing to people and the environment, cancers and mutant frogs?

  22. drunkenUrsula says:

    Poor Craig the m.p. for the area…doesn’t have a clue no statement from him ,get rid of that poor excuse of an elected official totally clueless …a pure example of his leadership or (LACK)of

  23. Common Sense says:

    I believe this is already a “done deal” because we can’t afford to be knocking down what’s already been built, but I have a suggestion. If we all have to put up with having a works depot located in the middle of the Botanical Gardens can we have a guarantee that the actual gardens be seriously improved and brought back up to somewhere near the standard they were kept for decades under a pervious (unmentionable) Government.

    We used to have pride taking friends and visitors and children to the Botanical Gardens when they were maintained to the highest standard. Now I just feel a sense of shame every time I go there.

    • Old Onion says:

      If they can’t do the job now, imagine how awful it’s going to look with a truck yard there. The whole thing is shameful. I don’t know how the head of Parks is still in the job. We shouldn’t have to put with something this idiotic when no one but a handful of civil servants want it in the first place. The worst part is that dept. is on the outsourcing list. The sooner the better.

  24. A Little Wisdom says:

    What strategy or long term plan does the Government have in place for the environment, parks, and agriculture? Everything seems to be ad hoc and poorly thought out, that is assuming there was any though at all. As mentioned in previous letters and petitions, etc, this project even if it is needed should not be put there.

    I understand that best is also against this. Again, petitions , letters of objection, etc. seems that no one is listening.

    Sad.

  25. UmJustSaying says:

    169 South Road-
    The other meaning for transparency, making it INVISABLE for the people to SEE

  26. Ian F says:

    You can tell the government workers cause all they’ve got it that it’s only a neighbor that doesn’t want this. No wonder the whole place looks like crap, too lazy and no pride in their work. Time to outsource

    • Zen says:

      Lots of brave commentary….bet none of you have the courage or decency to talk to the actual workers on grounds and get their opinions.
      Many of you talk about the environment yet when it comes right down to it it’s really about your own interest Bermuda is in trouble and will continue to be so as long as all are and keep being selfservant and gutter politics and hypocrites the rule of the day so keep dumping cars and metals overboard annihilating breeds of dogs and dumping homeless cats, yup but that’s bda lol bullsh@#a.

  27. Jonathan S says:

    I must admit I find that fact that it was only advertised as 169 South Road very disturbing. maybe the plan all along was to sneak this by the public because they knew people who go balastic. So much for transparency and public consultation. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this

  28. Ron says:

    Okay, I’m tired of you “save our parks” people. How many of you even spend any time at Botanical Gardens? Any day you drive by the park it is usually empty. The gardens are pretty big, there is still going to be a lot of park left. Reminds me of the supposed oh so important park in Warwick (Southlands), where you all chased a MAJOR hotel development away. So how many of you go to Southlands on a regular basis? One more thing, our pristine EMPTY beaches, lets have some beach bars, LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD. Anytime somebody tries something progressive, you guys try to shut it down, for who? Pretty soon it will be for nobody, the way this island is going.

    • not-the-Chris-Famous-show says:

      What is progressive about building a maintenance yard in the middle of a park?