Curt Pascall, the Manager of Ocean View Restaurant at Clifton Beach Facilities, speaks to us about the destruction done to the beach and facilities by Atlantic LNG.
They came in, destroyed and do not care
Curt Pascall Speaks
April 27, 2005
The Clifton Hill beach has been destroyed. As you can see, it is ridiculous. What Atlantic has done to us is a crime. In the eyes of the community Atlantic is not a good company, and we cannot side with what has happened. They have taken our means of recreation. How would you feel if somebody comes into your house and take away your bathroom that you are accustomed using. It feels like that with the beach.
We do not want anything new from Atlantic. We want what we had, because it was ours. This is not something we are asking or begging for. We are accustom bathing on this beach, and when we are finished we have a shower, have something to eat or drink as we are accustomed having, and we go home after enjoying our weekend. We had about fifteen to twenty people selling here every Sunday. It was the livelihood of the people.
We had an average of fifty buses every weekend. It was a big thing with plenty, plenty people, and this is every weekend right through the year we are talking about. That is what Clifton Hill beach commanded. You didn't have to market Clifton Hill beach, people wanted to come here. We had like a boat house over on the shore where our boats used to come up, and we would also slide them down into the water. This would take place every weekend. We used to have the boating schools that used to come down and conduct courses, now all that has gone.
They came in and destroyed and do not care. This is what happened. They wanted the cheap way of installing a twenty-four inch gas line, which they did with the fifty-six inch that just came in. We have a fifty-six inch line running under this building right now. Imagine fifty-six inches of gas running under here right now. They took the cheap way out and cut the road open and put the gas line in the road. Within that process, there was tidal action outside there, and that is what destroyed the whole settings. Other than that, they dredge over on their side and they continued to maintain the dredge. They have to maintain the dredge on an almost twenty-four hour basis in order for the ships to be able to come in and be able to go back out this way through the channel. What they are going to do with this new train five that coming in, is to dredge even further.
The ships as you can see outside there have to wait until another ship leaves. What they are going to do now, with the upscale in production, they are going to be channeling the dredge wider, so that the boat will turn around this way now and go back out. So the ships can come in here now and line up without having to wait till one fill and go out and then the next one come in. So as fast as one fills, it turns and another one lines up and fills up again. Now that looks like they will triple their ability to take gas out. It is all well and good that their engineers have put that in place to upgrade their facilities, but in the mean time, we are suffering.
Once they widen the dredge, it will be slush. The whole area further down is slush, all the beachfront is slush, mud that comes up from the dredge. People are not bathing on the beach again. I haven't been to the beach in three or four years now. I had a beachfront property and about two hundred feet was the beach. It is ridiculous, only mud since Atlantic came in. The Point Fortin people are totally dissatisfied with what Atlantic is doing. What they claimed to be doing in the future is putting a play park over on the other side and to install a one of a kind beach facility. That was about two Junes back and was supposed to have been completed. Well, they haven't driven a stroke as yet, because they came and put down the fifty-six inch line so you know they have the right of way, fifty feet on either side. So where exactly are they putting this facility now.
It was disheartening to see the very old trees destroyed. Imagine these people covered up a swamp where the birds will go on evenings. They just bring in their tractors and covered up the swamp. They have destroyed natural habitation for those animals over on the other side.
The big rocks they put out there is to protect their lines because remember the sea will come in. The line which is in the middle of the road, is where they dig open the road to place the lines. The sea started to come in, so what they had to do was placed the stones there to prevent the water from coming into the lines. What they had to do initially was directional drilling, which they did with the fifty-six inch line. They wanted to close this facility also. Now if this facility is not here, Atlantic will not have much of a problem, because nobody will want to come here and nobody will see this. If here was closed, you would not have been able to come and see what was happening. They have banned most of the ex-pats from coming down on the beach. I have proof of that from one of the guys who said; 'you can record me I am a big man'. He said Tom Hill told them not to come to Clifton Hill Beach Facilities. He said; 'but I like here'. They pulled them in a meeting and told them not to go to Clifton Beach Facilities, go to any other entertainment venue.
We always had an estranged relationship because I went in there one time and I told them what I had to tell them. Now Tom Hill, who is the site manager for Becthel, has his house right over the hill, and has the best view in Point, but is right over the washrooms. So when we play music sometimes it will affect him. Now Tom Hill is from Texas. He wants the best view in Point and he doesn't want any noise around him. He wants to be comfortable and he feels he is still in Texas. I have proof of a letter he wrote and carbon copied it to the borough council, the attorney general and the EMA, talking about the noise. Tom Hill could live anywhere in Trinidad. As a matter of fact, he doesn't even have to live in Trinidad. As far as we or rather, I am concerned, I have children in university and I have bills to pay. I told him straight up, I said; "Tom Hill, anytime the beach facilities close down, that is my lively hood, that is what I live by, you will have to pick up my bills". It is not him alone living up there, it is a whole street of people and nobody else complains. The mayor lives right on the top, the M.P. is next to him. I have proof again from other people that he carried a petition for them to sign, to close down the beach facility because of the noise. I know it is not about that alone. Once here close down, nobody will come down the hill. Now if you do not come down the hill you can't possible see this, you will just pass and go on to the other side where you could bathe, but it doesn't have any facilities.
For Atlantic to look good in our eyes, though they cannot look good really, but to brush of some of the wrongs that they did, all we want is a beach facility with a beach. They claimed that they cannot fix back here, but we know it can be done because engineers came down here. Sometimes the people would come here, big men, and cry because of the loss. Nobody is highlighting this thing. People would come straight from the states with their baggage still in their trunks, and would be shock at what happened. It is a natural thing for Point Fortin people to go straight in the water with the clothes they come to Trinidad with, especially if they lived abroad for a while. The Ministry of Marine Affairs claimed to be doing a study right now that should take two to three years to find out how the currents will be.
These facilities do not belong to me; the property belongs to the borough, but is leased to me, and they are aware of what transpired. There is a group that just came in (Friends of Point Fortin Foundation), and they are legally making a representation on behalf of Point Fortin. That started recently because Atlantic really didn't want to talk to just anybody, they asked that they get registered to make it legal. The general view of the average person is to leave Point Fortin right now. I have been here (Ocean View Restaurant) for five years. We are supposed to get a big plant, the aluminum smelter, which the critiques claimed has destructive properties. That was a big thing and as a matter of fact, that stopped the plant from going down.
There are a lot of issues that are related to the things that are emulated when multinational companies come in. Atlantic is not bringing commerce to Point Fortin. They are situated here, but how are they participating? Now, there is a road up here that comes straight to Atlantic LNG that they enter and exist. They do not ever get to Point Fortin. They have created an avenue. They do not do anything for the commerce where Point Fortin is concerned. Most of the ex-pats live in San Fernando, Port of Spain, all over the place. They socialize in Port of Spain and they live in San Fernando. They have things in place to take care of their wives and children. The company provides service to take their wives and the children to shop. Atlantic office is in Port of Spain, so if you have to write a letter, nobody knows the individual, so most of the time your letter is discarded or they hardly ever respond.
We in particular have a talent competition. It is one of the biggest events outside of the Borough Day celebrations. We attract an average crowd of about two thousand to twenty five hundred people every Sunday on the facilities. We run the talent competition for the people of the South Western peninsular. It is on the basis of this type of event, why I acquired Clifton Hill beach, because one of the terms and conditions in the clause the borough had put in. You cannot use the beach facilities to do anything to bring down the borough. You have to do things that will uplift it. You cannot just do things to make money, like striptease shows. You make money yes, because you have staff to pay, but you have to do things in a particular way that will stare you in a different direction. So far, we here have hosted the Prime Minister and all the ministers.
Deputy Mayor Marlon Richardson Speaks
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