Commentary: A beautiful part of town – By Dave Martins + Music Video

Some places on earth are stunning just as they are – Utah’s Bryce Canyon; the rock formations of the Pitons in St. Lucia; the Canadian Rocky Mountains; Kaieteur Falls in Guyana; Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman Island – but many of the beautiful places we encounter in the more affluent countries are actually landscapes converted into eye-catching scenery by development and enhancement.

 There is, for example, a valley in Toronto, that was simply bush in the early 1960s; today the six-lane Don Valley Parkway winds through the city, following a dried up river bed, in what can be an almost countryside drive (when there are no traffic jams, that is) in the middle of a huge city. That area, now a very busy roadway, is also a singular scenic experience, much admired, but it wasn’t always there; it was created.         
In Dutch St. Maarten, behind the downtown array of stores, there is a long crescent-shaped beach. It is some 50 yards deep in places. Many years ago, the St. Maarten government came up with a plan to build a wide boardwalk on the land by the beach, abutting the existing businesses, stretching from downtown to the nearby hotels. People were immediately drawn to the area – strolling, dining in cafes, listening to music, even late-night shopping. Today the boardwalk appears on St. Maarten’s postcards; a piece of created scenic beauty.

We go to these places and see these things, and don’t always consider that beautiful settings are often generated by a combination of landscape and visionary development; in other words, substantial financial investment is behind them. In similar fashion, if we had the resources to do it, there are sections of Guyana that could be made into stunning landscapes. We pass them every day, impervious to the potential.

If, for example, the East Coast Road stretching from, say Courida Park to upper Camp Road, existed in the affluent world, it would be made into a scenic experience. The potential is clearly there. The range of possibilities is quite wide, but here’s one example of how it could go: The median in the centre of the roadway, coming west, all the way to the Russian Embassy bend, would be planted with a variety of short flowering shrubs (red, yellow, blue, etc.). The seawall to the right would be painted in colourful designs, and selected advertising, varying every 20 yards or so, all the way to the Kitty foreshore. Behind the wall, on the land side, would be short light poles, similar to the ones in the median, to provide illumination to the space at night, and every so often a wooden abutment to the wall holds a pair of benches where people can sit without blocking walkers..

The grassy parapets would be neatly trimmed., with occasional small flowering trees (yellow and red poui), and every so often, in a sizeable bay, a roadside vendor sells assorted eats and drinks. Each bay is equipped with a compact toilet facility, and garbage disposal. (This approach takes it as a given that we have proper garbage collection. Littering is usually an off and on condition; neglected landscape is there 24/7.)  As we approach the UG junction, there would be a small shopping arcade on the south-west corner with more shopper options (including phone top-up) and adequate parking. Identified by attractive signage, it can be accessed both by travelers going west and by eastbound motorists turning right at the traffic light.
Planning regulations will require all open grassy areas along the stretch to be properly manicured and fenced, as some already are. Once that environment is spruced up it will be a catalyst for every inhabitant of the landscape to follow suit. From Ocean Club all the way into town, there would be a board walk on the seawall side, stretching to the Russian Embassy corner, where portable kiosks would operate on weekend evenings. Loud DJs would be banned, but small sets or live combos, dispersed along there, would play on weekends, with a variety of music being offered..

I’m going to pull off and take a rest by Conversation Tree – I’m exhausted by all this work – but I’m sure you get the idea. That stretch of East Coast landscape that we sail by unnoticed every day is a potential bonanza as opposed to the somewhat neglected corridor spectacle it now presents.

The upgrading would essentially generate social benefits – beautification and recreation use – but there will also be financial ones: properly zoned, the area would become attractive to certain businesses and land value will appreciate. Tourists would “ooh” and “aah” over it. Residents would take pictures and send to their diaspora contacts. It would become a model for other areas to emulate; the public image enhancement would be substantial.

There are pockets of this kind of beautification in place now (Liliendaal Convention Centre; Promenade Gardens; parts of the Essequibo Coast), but our general landscape is lying there with virtually no attention. Parapets are not trimmed – in places, grass grows in a wide swath back of the Georgetown seawall, and even a few dead trees are on view; open land in the heart of town has a diverse and somewhat tattered look.

Of course, talk is cheap; to create the needed transformation will take copious amounts of money and cooperation among various government departments – both conditions which are sometimes lacking now. But we need to start thinking along these lines, so if and when the oil money becomes available, we would have some ideas waiting on where it can be effectively applied..

In that same context, however, we can do something immediately that would go a long way to repair the often bedraggled appearance of our city limits. Government could cut the grass which is greatly overgrown in many places, including in residential developments. It wouldn’t take an astronomical sum to trim those public grass pieces, there are many, and each homeowner could follow suit for a few dollars, all resulting in a beautiful part of town. Good idea?

Dave Martin and the Tradewinds – Music Video

Dave Martin and the Tradewinds 1987 visit to Washington DC

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  • Kman  On 07/03/2021 at 12:53 pm

    Dave and gang are the Champions of the West Indies. Good memories.
    Dave, you left out the yankee brush on purpose.
    I wonder if this song would be offensive in today’s world.

    Thanks for your music over the years.

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