TRINIDAD & TOBAGO NEWSDAY
Govt give Greyfriars owner new proposal
Friday, December 19 2014
ALFRED GALY, owner of the historic Greyfriars Church of Scotland building on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain is currently reviewing a proposal sent to him by the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration for the preservation and reconstruction of the partially demolished building.
“We submitted a proposal to Mr Galy. He is reviewing it. He will send back his final proposal to us,” Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel told Newsday yesterday.
Asked what was Government/stakeholders’ proposal for the preservation of the building which was partially demolished on Sunday, November 30, Samuel said he would prefer not to say. Half of the building has been destroyed. He assured Newsday that he had spoken with Galy on Wednesday. Samuel told Newsday that there were some options including working together in a partnership for the preservation of the church that was opened to a congregation during the period of the abolition of slavery.
The complete demolition of the building was halted after Samuel and his adviser Dr Nurah Rosalie Cordner intervened. Cordner risked her life to stop the works, climbing onto an excavator to stop the demolition crew of contractor, Don Ramdeen & Co, from tearing down the centuries’ old church.
Meanwhile, the Port-of-Spain City Corporation has obtained an emergency injunction from the High Court to prevent unauthorised and dangerous demolition work from going forward at the historic building. The demolition exercise had not been authorised.
from today’s Trinidad Guardian (copyright)
Businessman Alfred Galy applied to the Port-of-Spain City Corporation yesterday for a demolition notice for the former Greyfriars church on Frederick Street.
This comes a week after the corporation ordered work on the site stopped after Galy’s workmen removed the roof of the church hall and part of the roof of the church itself.
Fears that Galy was demolishing the building led to protests last week from the NGO Citizens for Conservation, and National Diversity Minister Rodger Samuel said the deconsecrated church would soon be listed as a protected historic building.
But in an interview yesterday, chief inspector at the city engineer’s office Deoraj Ramtahal confirmed Galy had submitted a demolition application to his office. He added that Galy had also met with the corporation yesterday to discuss ways to save the property by converting it into a suitable business.
“He submitted the application in order to comply with the corporation’s regulations,” Ramtahal said.
Galy is expected to meet with Ramtahal and members of Town and Country Planning at the Ministry of Finance today.
Yesterday, the site remained quiet, with no signs of workers.
In a letter to the editor in today’s T&T Guardian, historian Michael Anthony, appealing for the church to be preserved, recorded that it was founded by the Rev Alexander Kennedy of the Church of Scotland, a man he described as the most dynamic and zealous of local missionaries. Anthony said Kennedy came to T&T in 1836 and converted an unused building on Cambridge Street (then part of St Vincent Street) into a little chapel, then began building his own church the next year. Kennedy was an ardent abolitionist. (See letter on p25)
A petition calling for the preservation of the property and addressed to the Town and Country Planning Division had gathered over 600 online signatures as of yesterday. The petition, started by concerned citizen Joshua Lue Chee Kong, expresses concern over the potential demolition of the church, and says it should be preserved at all costs to benefit future generations.
“Therefore we wish with all the power granted by your office, that this matter be resolved immediately and that the church gains the necessary protection it deserves as a heritage site as quickly as possible,” it reads.