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Ministers Present Plans for New $2.5 Million Multi-Purpose Gymnasium in Eleuthera
Community gives consensus on Palmetto Point location.
(Eleuthera, Bahamas) - Plans for a multi-purpose gymnasium facility on Eleuthera, similar to those unveiled for Abaco recently, were presented to the community, by officials on Wednesday, August 10th. Minister of Public Works and Transport, Neko Grant, accompanied by Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Charles Maynard and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alvin Smith visited Eleuthera, to tour and inspect a number of on-going and completed projects in addition to holding a town meeting planned on the same evening at 7pm at the Worker's House Complex in Governor's Harbour to gain consensus on the best placement for a $2.5 million gymnasium/multi-purpose facility for the island.
Minister of Public Works, Neko Grant (2nd from left) inspects the proposed site location for the $2.5 million dollar gymnasium/multi-purpose building facility, on Queen's Highway in Palmetto Point, with Chief Architect, Ministry of Public Works, Mr. Livingston Forbes (4th from left) and local authorities.
Grant, accompanied by other officials from within the Ministry of Public Works, took a tour of the area in Palmetto Point, Central Eleuthera earmarked for construction of the facility. The site which is comprised of approximately, 21 acres of crown land, according to Livingston Forbes, Chief Architect, also falls in the center of the island, which would serve to also make the new facility conveniently accessible to patrons from both the north and south of Eleuthera. It is located on Queen's Highway in the general area of the 'Welcome to Palmetto Point' sign when approaching the town from Governor's Harbour.
Panel guests for the August 10th town meeting, held at Worker's House in Governor's Harbour included (L - R) Livingston Forbes, Chief Architect Ministry of Public Works and Transport; Gregory Knowles, South Eleuthera Asst. Administrator; Preston Cunningham, North Eleuthera Administrator; Calvin Balfour, Undersecretary Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture; Charles Maynard, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture; Neko Grant, Minister of Public Works and Transport; Alvin Smith, Speaker of the House of Assembly/North Eleuthera MP; Oswald Ingraham, South Eleuthera MP; Mrs. Elizabeth Keju, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport; and Timothy Munnings, Director of Sports.
From there the visiting Ministers convened at the planned town meeting which got underway shortly before 8pm in the evening. Also present, were, MP; Oswald Ingraham, South Eleuthera MP; Mrs. Elizabeth Keju, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPT); Chief Councilors for North, Central and South Eleuthera; Administrators for North, Central and South Eleuthera; Department Heads of local Government Agencies; Timothy Munnings, Director of Sports; Livingston Forbes, Chief Architect (MPT); Coldwell Pratt, Deputy Director (MPT); and Calvin Balfour, Undersecretary Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture. In the audience were constituents from throughout Eleuthera, as far as Harbour Island in the north and Wemyss Bight in the south.
Audience Member, Mr. Artie Johnson, poses a question to the panel during the question and answer session.
Maynard, in his presentation to the audience, highlighted the development as one that could attract major sporting events, with excellent potential for sports tourism. He also stressed that the facility had multiple benefits with uses for sports, culture and community events. He described some of the planned features including the multi-purpose indoor court for basketball, volleyball and other sports. The facility he said, will also have a permanent stage for cultural, civic and community events and could even be a staging facility for hosting island wide national examinations. Maynard shared that the gym was a part of the government's plan to, "give each island the ability to be able to use this kind of facility for the betterment of the young people, and to use the facility for the growth of the community and the unity of the community."
Mr. Neko Grant, Minister of Public Works and Transport described the evening's event as a very special one.
Grant in his contribution, revealed that, since the beginning of his 'Infrastructure Crusade' which began in Eleuthera in August of 2008, approximately $30 million had been spent on infrastructure projects on the island. He shared that he had spent 25 years as a softball administrator, making the evening a special one, saying, "The Good Master has placed me in the position to contribute further to the growth and development of sports". He continued, also mentioning his recent stop in Abaco, where similar gym plans were presented, "We intend for the gym to be the prototype and much work has gone into the design and planning."
In brief remarks, Smith, expressed his delight in the prospect of the gymnasium being built, saying, "The building of a gymnasium here in Eleuthera is just, in my view, an indication of the government's recognition of this island being a sporting power... This is a monument to many of those persons who would have made tremendous sacrifices in the promotion of sports in Eleuthera."
In his presentation of the architectural plans for the new gym, Livingston Forbes, walked the audience through the plans for the gym, an intended steel structure with reinforced concrete of approximately 18,000 ft., which included the multi-purpose indoor court, collapsible bleacher seating for 1800 persons, a permanent stage, showers, changing rooms, first aid rooms, concession stands, ticketing booths, fire exits and more. He also illustrated potential function uses of the facility, describing a banquet function with table seating for 500, staged events with possible seating arrangements for 1000 plus seats, a hurricane shelter with proper restrooms, showers, and kitchen facilities and others. He informed the meeting audience that working construction plans could be completed in October 2011, if the site was agreed on that evening, after which the tender process would begin. It was also said that the new gym would include a 12 to 14 months approximated construction timeline once contracts were finalized and work began.
After formal presentations, the question of the site decision was put to the audience for a formal vote, which resulted in a unanimous decision to proceed with the recommended location in Palmetto Point. With this successful consensus, Ministry of Works architects now begin transforming the plans into working drawings.