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Whither Heritage Square?

Whither Heritage Square?

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A few years ago, a sign was unveiled at the area formerly known as South River Road, and the area proudly renamed “Heritage Square”. The intention behind the gesture was noble, but somehow, we get the impression that the architects of the name change did not envisage just what that name would come to be associated with.

Just two weeks ago, we reported Senior Magistrate Carl Joseph’s dissatisfaction with the activities at the popular weekend hangout spot. On a single day, eight persons charged with possession of cannabis were brought before him. They had all been arrested at Heritage Square the weekend before. The Magistrate expressed the opinion that the activities there brought disgrace to the country and should be stopped.{{more}}

Besides seemingly being a haven for illegal activity, the area has also unfortunately come to be associated with loud music, drunk and disorderly behaviour, scantily dressed females and displays of vulgarity. Surely, these activities do not reflect or promote what is best about our heritage.

Several businesses in that area must surely be compromised by the Heritage Square activities. Customers of the commercial bank in that area have expressed trepidation at making use of the bank’s Automatic Teller Machine or the Night Depository facilities on Friday or Saturday evenings. There are also two hotels in the vicinity. Have we considered the effect of the activities there on their guests?

As we approach Heritage Month, perhaps this is a good time to reflect on just where we are going with Heritage Square. Fortunately, the person responsible for Culture and Urban Development in this country is a woman of vision and action. If any improvement can be brought to the situation, we have confidence that Rene Baptiste can do it. Minister, in prioritizing your activities for this year, please place a review of Heritage Square high on the list.

While we allow that the young and young at heart among us need and should be provided with inexpensive recreational activities, we need to consider whether that site is suitable for the congregation of hundreds seeking to unwind and relax after a busy week at work. Heritage Square is located at one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. The activities there virtually cut off traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, between Halifax and Bay Streets.

Besides reconsidering the suitability of the location, we also need to look at the activities being promoted there. Heritage Square is a public place, accessible to persons of all ages. Alcohol is readily available, and there is no indication that efforts are made to ensure that children do not partake.

In the weeks leading up to Carnival last year, there was a series of very entertaining and encouraging performances in the area featuring our up-and-coming local stars. Perhaps we could take example from that, and at another location in Kingstown, have weekly open-air talent shows where our entertainers are afforded the opportunity to display and develop their performing skills. While we are on the topic of our local performers, we take this opportunity to tip our hat to them. Their performances at Blues Fest 2006 were outstanding. Good going!

No one wants to exclude the small businessmen and vendors who do a brisk trade at Heritage Square. Any reorganization should take their needs into consideration.

If we cannot find a way to relocate and/or clean up Heritage Square and its activities, at the very least, let’s stop sullying the concept of what we consider to be “our Heritage” and revert to the original name.

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