offer they couldnt refuse?
By John Maxwell
took the bait
Strange but true
Not enough data
In whose interest
The ambience would be perfect, the convenience out
of this world!. You could walk to work, across a
paradaisical landscape, over manicured lawns, past real live flamingoes.
through an avenue of century palms, beside a water garden, an aquarium
and an orchid houses.Your friends would be entertained in a park-like
atmosphere, with rolling lawns and lush tropical landscaping
with full recreational facilities including swimming pools,
jogging trails in the most attractive surroundings possible,
a Botanical Garden.
It would have been sooo convenient, especially if you worked at
one end of the property the Royal Botanic Gardens, Hope and
lived at the other end at the Hope Country Club. That was
the prospect offered to the civil servants and others who worked
at the Ministry of Agriculture, It was offered by Messrs Robert
Cartade and Roosevelt Thompson, who, in 1990 to 1994, were apparently
were apparently competing for the same piece of Hope Gardens land
for the purpose of building houses. Cartade and Thompson didnt
describe the land as Hope Gardens, for them it was simple a parcel
adjacent to Hope Pastures.
Cartade and Thompson both propositioned the Ministry of Agriculture
(MinAg) in 1990, apparently acting in their disparate, individual
interests, but a careful reading of their solicitations would reveal
that for competitors, they had a strange correspondence of language.
They are now, officially, and openly, partners with the Minister
of Housing and Environment in a joint venture on a proposed subdivision
of Hope Gardens. According to Mr Thompson, his group would
set aside 20% of the houses for sale to persons selected by your
Mr Cartades pitch was even cruder: The Ministry of Agriculture
would not only benefit financially, but would also be in a position
to provide a large number of houses to its management personnel
and civil servants generally from a precentage (sic) of houses reserved
specifically for that purpose.
ONE TOOK THE BAIT
In attempting to induce the Ministry to sell them
the land, Thompson and Cartade both referred to the land as adjoining
Hope Pastures, never as part of Hope Gardens . It was the
sort of offer which sensible civil servants could hardly refuse.
The problem for Cartade, Thompson and the Ministry of Housing was
that several sensible civil servants , despite the blandishments
and the severe conflict of interest, did refuse to be blinded by
the prospect of upscale housing in a private park.
The Town Planning Department would have none of it. On November
7, 1990, Miss Alexander of the TPD informed the Commissioner of
Lands that they could not support the further subdivision of Hope
for any non-recreational use and informed him that the new Development
Order would, retain the recreational zoning of the old development
Order of 1966.
Mr Vincent Campbell, acting Director of the Rural Physical Planning
Division of the Ministry refused ( on November 28, 1990) to sanction
the development on ecological grounds and because the Zoo needed
the land for expansion.
Another refusal came on On January 7, 1991, when Dr Marcel Anderson,
then Principal Director of the Natural Resources Conservation Department
refused to approve the scheme. The subdivision was on a seismic
fault, dangerous to life and property, the area was subject to spontaneous
fires because of the flinty nature of the shale, and the subdivision
would interfere with the water supply for the Gardens.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
These refusals were in answer to the importunities
of the Commissioner of Lands, one James Munroe, who was impressed
by the blandishments of Cartade and Thompson, and recommended that
MinAg sell the land to Thompson. In addition, Munroe wrote various
government departments on July 24, 1990, asking for their comments.
He also informed the outgoing Minister of Agriculture, Mr Horace
Clarke informing him that he was seeking approvals.
This was a little odd, since, on the same day Mr Munroe was asking
for comments, he was also writing to the new Minister of Agriculture,
Mr Seymour Mullings, informing him that he, Munroe, had sought the
opinions of the Town Planner, Rural Physical Planning, Water Commission
and NRCD and that NRCD offers no objection, Rural Physical
Planning also offers no objection.
Meanwhile, somebody else was after another piece of Hope Gardens..
According to Mr Easton Douglas, then Minister of Health, unbeknownst
to him, his Permanent Secretary wanted a different piece of the
same estate to build a nursing school. Mr Douglas learned of this,
he says, when the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of
Planning, Mr Patterson, wrote refusing the proposal in his famous
letter of October 1, 1991, addressed to Mr Douglas.
But this refusal, which should have been known to Roosevelt Thompson
and Cartade, did not deter them. They were still after the land,
bordering on Hope Pastures and might well have got it,
were it not for the fact, as Mr Cartade has admitted, Mr Munroe
had unfortunately departed from office.
Five years later Thompson and Cartade were still in the hunt, despite
a second refusal from the Town Planner (November 29, 1996) and an
objection from the Ministry of Agriculture in September 1998.
NOT ENOUGH DATA
In between those last two objections, Mr Easton Douglas
had taken to Cabinet a proposal to divest the lands adjoining Hope
Pastures and received approval. I am told that the Minister is in
bad odour with his colleagues on the PNP executive and the Cabinet
because they feel he did not explain to them exactly what land was
to be subdivided i.e. that they were not aware that the land
was part of Hope Gardens.
In all this time it was known to the MinAg and the TPD that the
land was wanted for extension of the Zoo and the redevelopment of
Hope Gardens. Somehow, this fact did not get across to Mr Douglas.
And, just two weeks ago, Dr Conrad Douglas, the Ministers
brother and the head of ESTEC, the company which did the Environmental
Impact Assessment, claimed that the TPD had given its approval,
despite the fact that this approval (September 27, 1999)
was conditional on the land not being required by the Ministry
of Agriculture for expansion of Hope Gardens and the Zoo Since
the TPD has always been well aware that the Ministry wants the land
for the purposes outlined, it was a diplomatic way of saying No
without rubbing their faces in it. TPD obviously thought everybody
else was also so aware.
IN WHOSE INTEREST
Despite the blandishments of Cartade and Thompson,
several civil servants refused to bow to the market forces. They,
like most of us, see the land as part of Hope Gardens, as does the
1966 Development Order and the proposed new Development Order of
to a 1981 map prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, now in my
possession, the land is part of Hope Gardens. According to a
map prepared by the Director of Surveys and reprinted
in a book called The Botanic Gardens of Jamaica by Professor
Alan Eyre, the land is part of Hope Gardens. And the Development
Order clearly marks the land as part of the Hope Gardens estate.
Between them, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Director of Surveys
(O.B.Rodgers) and the Emeritus professor of Geography at UWI (Eyre)
and the Government Town Planner should know what Hope gardens meant
Everybody except the joint venture developers seems to know what
Hope gardens is. Cartade, Thompson and the Minister of Housing seem
to be operating on the principle that since Hope Gardens has been
assaulted and diminished by so many others government schemes, a
little joint venture wont hurt it now, especially since the
private sector is the engine of development. On the
same basis, I suppose, they would counsel a woman who had been raped
to consider prostitution, since she done ruin aready.