The Old Recreation Grounds
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Although a pilot project has been started by the BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) to replace the existing streetlights with light emitting diodes (LED) lighting along the Long Bush roa, where the softball field is located, the purchased LED lights for the field have not yet arrived.
Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool was asked at the launch of the pilot program last week, about the LED lights which Government has ordered for the field.
"The softball field was not included in this pilot, but we have ordered lights for the softball field. The reason why there has been a little bit of delay is that we wanted to make sure that they were LED lights. So they are coming and the other reason we had a bit of a delay was the type of poles that we are ordering. We wanted to make sure they can be used for climbing and replacing and so on. So they are specially made poles that are coming, but that project is underway; I think it's going to take another two months before they get here," Minister Vanterpool stated.
The BVIEC has introduced the pilot project in conjunction with General Electric (GE) for the conversion process.
General Manager of BVIEC, Leroy Abraham explained that under the program, LED street lighting is being introduced on Long Bush road, Scatliffe Alley and Walter Francis Highway from the Station Avenue traffic lights to the roundabout.
He said that the cost of the pilot is approximately just over $8000 and BVIEC purchased 16 fixtures, but GE also provided 12 free fixtures.
The issue of the absence of lights at the softball field has been heavily debated, with Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser and Education and Culture Minister, Hon. Myron Walwyn trading words in the House of Assembly earlier this year.
The absence of the lights was raised by Hon. Fraser during the debate of the Recreation Trust (Amendment) Act, 2012 which was presented to the House by Minister Walwyn.
"I consider it to be despicable and deplorable the fact that the Old Recreation Grounds where softball is played has no lights and softball league opened a week ago, and they have to play on Saturday and Sunday. This is the ancient past; these things don´t happen anymore. Who plays ball in the day time anymore? These people have to work...The sun is hot. This is unacceptable...Those games play at nights," Hon. Fraser stated back in May.
However, Minister Walwyn interjected and stated that when persons are making statements in the House they must be accurate, noting that some two to three months after he took up office, the issue was brought to his attention that the old poles at the ground posed a danger to players.
He said parents called the Ministry and called him directly to voice their concerns, stating that the poles have not been replaced in years and are rotten.
He noted that there was one particular pole which, with a strong wind, could have fallen on someone's child.
The Minister said he then visited the field along with Acting Youth and Sports Director Mr. Patrick Harrigan and the BVI Electricity Corporation´s Chairman.
"And we looked at those poles and I could tell you, we went and look at each one; rotten to the core. We had to take down every last one and when they came down I could not believe we had those poles up there for that length of time and we had our stalwarts playing on that field. Those poles could have fall down any minute," Minister Walwyn stated.
The Minister added, "...The truth must be told; I have only been in office for six months, those poles been there for a long time and I am glad I have to say that I had to take them down because in anything you do; safety is paramount."