A section outside the community centre - June 21, 2012.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Government through the Social Development Department (SDD) may be forced to install bars at the $1.5M Purcell Community Centre.
During a community meeting held last evening, June 21 at the centre, residents expressed the view that since the centre has been opened, there has been minimal use of it by residents of the district, but persons from other areas are being allowed to use it. They believe that there is some sort of stereotype against the residents, especially those that reside in Purcell.
Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines, Sixth District Representative said she has been receiving numerous calls from both residents and the Social Development Department under which community centres are being run.
"Every day I have been getting a lot of phone calls; persons from this district complaining that they cannot get to use the community centre and complaints from Social Development that people are breaking in and sleeping in the centre," she stated.
Hon. Maduro-Caines explained that she is not responsible for the centre, but is concerned over the way the centre is being used by some persons, including for sleeping purposes at night. She said when persons call her about the lack of access to the centre, she tries her best to intervene.
The District Representative said there is need for a manager to run the facility to ensure it is properly maintained.
"I am not solely responsible for the community centre; it is run by Social Development. So anything that goes on in this centre has to go through Social Development. Sometimes people call me with an attitude, cursing and carrying out, and I try to explain that I am not in charge of the centre. It has not been turned over to me...It's a beautiful centre and I am asking you to try your best...I know things are not in place in terms of maintenance and management...I had a talk with Barbara today, who is over this centre in Social Development. I told her it's totally impossible for her to sit in her office and run this centre. You cannot do it; there is need for a manager," she said.
Hon. Maduro-Caines said due to the abuse of the centre, Government is exploring installing bars on the windows.
"One thing that we are looking at and we didn't want to have to go that route, but is putting bars on the windows because they are breaking in and sleeping in the centre. It is not a homeless shelter; it's a community centre to be used by everyone. Recently we had to replace all the locks on the doors because when something happens, even though I am not in charge of the centre, Social Development calls me and say you have to speak to your people because they are doing this and that..."
She added, "We are soon going to have it furnished, but they are a bit scared of that too because of the break and entering, people might come in and take the furnish out and that is one of the reasons it has not been completed furnishing as yet...We can speak to the youths; try to explain to them that it is their pride and joy and protect it."
The District Representative lamented that it is costing Government a lot of money to address the issues at the centre.
"I hoping that the youths around here would appreciate it a lot more and not vandalize it, because it is costing money to change the locks every minute and then they still find a way to break in and come in here. And sometimes you come in the day and the AC is on...The electricity bill for this centre was over a $1,000.00 last month."
Hon. Maduro-Caines told residents that she will be working out a plan with the department on the proper management of the center.
"I am hoping that in another couple of months, the Social Development Department and I can come up with a plan concerning the centre," she said.
Officials at the meeting on June 21, 2012.
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Meanwhile, some residents complained that its unfair that they are not allowed to use their centre for which it was built for. They also expressed concerns over the statement made that there are concerns that persons will try to steal the furniture.
"We want to use our centre...other people coming here to use it...Why can't the seniors and youths get to use the place...We know it's not furnished as yet, but we can get two chairs and still use it until things get better...It's stereotyping against us to say that the furnishing was not done because they are scared of us coming in and stealing; we have chairs in our house...We are not those kind of people," a resident opined.
Another resident said the persons who sleep in the centre are peaceful persons and if they are going to lock them out, then Government should find a solution to the issue of them having to sleep at a centre.
Hon. Ronnie Skelton, Minister for Health and Social Development who was also at the meeting, said he will look into the matter and come up with a solution. He also noted that the furniture has been ordered.
The Minister said they will move to ensure there is a manager at the facility and said that the District Representative will have a say in who that person will be.
The Sixth District Representative told residents, "I don't want the people of the Sixth District to feel like if they are being pushed out of their centre; that is not the way it is...but if someone goes to Social Development, they are going to rent whichever centre...We don't have a maintenance plan in place; that's the problem too."
At the official opening of the centre in September of last year, it was stated that the auditorium can hold some 204 persons. Persons were told that there is a spacious stage, dressing area, kitchen, senior citizens area, storeroom, gymnasium, District Representative office and washroom outfitted with showers. On the upper level, there is a conference room, resource centre, library and washroom.