BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, February 17, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — Prime Minister and Area Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher Seven, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, presented to the communities of Lodge-Ottley’s and surrounding areas a $3.2 million multi-purpose community centre at a ceremony held on Tuesday February 16 to commission the facility.
“I feel proud today because my government is delivering the best community centre in the country to you the wonderful people of St. Christopher Seven and Eight,” said Prime Minister Harris as he delivered feature remarks at the ceremony. “I am proud that today we are able to deliver this edifice so soon after my re-election – I am delivering this to you. I am keeping faith with you.”
According to the Honourable Prime Minister, the Team Unity Government was giving the residents of Lodge-Ottley’s and the surrounding communities a new beating heart, which he termed a fresh start at resuscitating the communities. He noted it was a centre to which the residents can come to organise, to plan and deliver programmes to advance and improve themselves and their communities.
“We heard that message coming from PS Janelle Lewis-Tafari,” said Dr Harris in reference to opening remarks delivered by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development. “PS Janelle Lewis-Tafari said that community centres should be the centrality of the organisation of community life and community activity, and that is so true. That is what we hope that this building will represent.”
He told the gathering that also included the Area Parliamentary Representative for the neighbouring St. Christopher Eight and Minister with responsibility for Social Development, the Hon Eugene Hamilton, that the centre is an example of Team Unity Government’s commitment to inclusiveness. The government, he added, was determined that no one is left behind, and said all people, regardless of circumstances, should be able to actively participate in their local community.
“The old community centre at Lodge Project was not fit for purpose,” observed Dr Harris. “It was not what this community deserved. It was not what our community expected. Some have said repeatedly the old centre showed how the previous government neglected this area. They deliberately refused to renovate the old centre. Today we come and we move beyond that victimisation and neglect of the past to the delivery of this modern first class edifice that will be part of our stronger and safer future.”
The old community centre at Lodge Project was the unofficial home for the longest running domino league in the country, St. Christopher Seven Domino League that is sponsored by Prime Minister Harris, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Games had to be played at different venues as the maximum number of games it could host was four, while the area around the centre had no parking spaces.
Prime Minister Harris said that he had been informed that the new centre could host all the 14 teams in the league and had ample parking space. He requested President and organiser of the league Mr Calvin Farrell, and his deputy Mr Simeon ‘Cuban’ Liburd, who were present and played an exhibition game, to take note. The 26th edition of the league will commence in July this this year.
Added Dr Harris: “Our footballers also have a venue to meet, as do other sporting teams and community groups.”
Present at the opening ceremony which was chaired by Dr Patrick Welcome, also included the Minister of Health et al the Hon Akilah Byron-Nisbett, the Minister of Education the Hon Jonel Powell, Resident Ambassador of the Republic of China on Taiwan His Excellency Tom Lee, Deputy Speaker Senator the Hon Dr Bernicia Nisbett, Ambassador His Excellency Kevin Williams, and Permanent Secretaries Mr Osmond Petty, Mrs Elreter Simpson-Browne, and Mr Ron Collins.
“Importantly, we have remembered the specially-abled in the design of this facility,” said the Honourable Prime Minister. “That is why this new centre includes ramps for specially-abled persons. We want all people to be connected with their community. My Government wants our specially-abled children to enjoy the blessings and gifts of life. We are doing all that we can to incorporate them more fully in our society.”