By Monique Washington
The Hon. Mark Brantley Minster of Tourism, Foreign Affairs among others, may be costing the people of Nevis a considerable amount of money to build a public park at Pinney’s Beach, the same park he recently boasted about already being funded.
Two weeks ago, Minster Brantley announced that funding he allegedly secured to pay for the park vanished in thin air.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that we had funding in place that has disappeared and so, we have had to recalibrate, take out some things, put in a few other things, but I think the public can look forward to the start of construction after the Culturama season,” Minister Brantley said.
The 14-acre parcel of land reserved for the park has been mapped out for the Pinney’s Park Project. Now for months, the parcel is home to donkeys, monkeys and cows. The initial plans for the park were announced in 2015, with construction delayed since then.
Federation citizens Anne Bass and Julian Lethbridge told The Observer in an exclusive interview on Thursday, that Bass never agreed to fund the park, and Brantley assured her that he would secure the funding.
“Anne never ever said that she would fund it [the park] from the very beginning,” Lethbridge explained. “She said she would do all the consultations and all the designs. She told Mark, she would contribute something, but she did not want to be the major funder, she did not want to fund the whole thing.”
Lethbridge said Bass thought it is important that the funding comes from a broad range of people. “It is a project that belongs to the public,” Lethbridge explained. “She would be happy to help, but she absolutely cannot fund it all.”
Lethbridge said Brantley claimed he would seek support for the project with foreign funders.
Lethbridge’s claims were verified in a press release issued exclusive to The Observer in which Bass’s attorneys stated, “Mr. Brantley asserted that, as Foreign Minister, he was confident that he would be able to attract international donations to Pinney’s Park and so he was not worried about the funding.”
Bass told The Observer that Brantley contacted her to get help with the park. “I thought it was great idea and I was willing to help but I could not fund it,’ she said.
According to Lethbridge, “Mark saw the (Bass) garden design and said this is the type of expertise we need. Mark got (Permanent Secretary in Tourism) Carl Williams and TamekaLawerance and put them in charge of it. In every dealing, everything to do with the park was done with Mark. We gave Mark the design for the park and the plan for the park.”
Bass has a long history as a committed environmentalist. She has many environmental and agricultural projects in Nevis. They include the Tower Hill project, the Marine Protection project and she has been funding Nevisian students with full scholarships to Earth University in Costa Rica.
Bass told The Observer she has contributed everything to the development of the park thus far. She assembled a team of landscape, architecture, and mechanical engineering professionals, who created a detailed project site plan, following the priorities provided by Mr. Brantley. She said many of the professionals donated their time and expenses to assist in planning and designing the project.
The initial project had pools, parking, a jogging path, a coconut grove and a pier among other things, but was changed to remove the pools and add small huts.
Bass said the project made her tired after the bulk of the work was laid at her feet. In February, Bass decided to drop her involvement in the project and sent a letter to Brantley.
“Regrettably I must suspend my involvement in Pinney’s Park and in other assistance to Government in environmental matters,” the Feb. 24 letter said. “The Government’s response to my claim with respect to the Candy Project suggests a lack of a true commitment to the environment. It also puts me into direct conflict with you and other Government officials with whom I would have to work. I will pursue my claim to the fullest extent allowable by law and then re-consider my position the law suit is concluded.”
Mrs. Bass has also filed a lawsuit against the Department of Physical Planning alleging the department approved the start of the Candy Resort Project without a proper Environmental Impact Assessment being completed.