Farmers in the British Virgin Islands believe the old police headquarters at Sir Olva Georges Plaza in Road Town could be put to better use as a marketplace.
Member of the Farmers and Fishermen Network, Aragon Dick-Read told BVI News in an exclusive interview that the dilapidated building has several factors that make it a perfect venue for them.
The government-owned building had received its share of blows from hurricanes Irma and Maria last year.
“With the right energy and the right funding, the structure could be restored and converted into an arcade or a breezeway where permanent stalls could be put in and allow farmers and people creating local products to come and sell their goods,” Dick-Read said.
“The police station is a good location. It’s a perfect public space, it’s a cultural and historical space as well, and it’s very attractive to multi-demographic usage. Every Caribbean country and most small towns all over the world have a permanent marketplace. A market brings people together, it allows the economy to flourish, it’s a community central point,” he added.
Farmers dislike present market
According to Dick-Read, it is the general consensus among farmers that the present market located opposite Flow in Road Town is not suitable.
He said the location is not ideal because it doubles as a parking lot. He also reasoned that the location has no permanent stalls and other facilities needed in a market.
He said authorities did not place enough thought into the current market.
“The place is congested … and it doesn’t make you feel good to work in there. And farmers, in general, don’t like it,” he remarked.
No development plans for old police HQ
Meanwhile, our news centre invited comments from City Manager Janice Braithwaite-Edwards in relation to the likelihood of the old police headquarters becoming a marketplace.
She said she did not know, and noted that the building belongs to government; not the City.
“I can allow the farmers to operate in that area for right now because we do not have the development plan yet for the area. But a number of government agencies have been displaced from their location that they were paying rent in, so government may decide that we have five or six agencies that we can put in the building,” she said.
“The market would not be a priority for the government, at this time, as we look at the recovery of the Virgin Islands and the City as it relates to space. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of other areas that would take precedence as it relates to space and for people to operate.”
She also said plans are afoot to repair the current marketplace on Fishlock Road.
Some of the plans include diverting parking to the festival grounds when it is not in use.
“How soon that is going to happen? I can’t say,” she told BVI News.
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