Members of various sporting organisations took their protest against the poor condition of facilities at Skinner Park to the doorstep of San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray, yesterday morning. They charged that sport was taking a beating as Skinner Park was now transformed into a glorified car park for wrecked cars and a venue for entertainment. The Mayor, who was just returning to her office after a tour of the Marabella market with Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma and Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod, encountered the group outside City Hall, but refused to entertain them. She told the group’s leader Lucy Regis, the San Fernando Netball League president: “I do not conduct business on the streets.”
The group, representing the sports of netball, basketball, football, cycling and tennis, said the conditions at Skinner Park, once the premier sporting facility in the south, and which produced Hasely Crawford were appalling. Regis, who was joined by Ian Babb, representing basketball and lawn tennis and cyclist Kent Luces, charged: “Someone is trying to wreck sports in Skinner Park and south Trinidad in particular.” She said the bleachers, toilets and netball court were all unacceptable. She said the cycling track was full of cracks. Speaking about the pride all of Trinidad and Tobago, including Sporting Minister Anil Roberts felt at the achievement of cyclist Njisane Phillip, she asked: “Did the minister know that our champion cyclist had to train on this cracked track. If the bicycle goes down in one of these cracks the cyclist could fall and get hurt.”
Regis said annually for Carnival, sporting activities had to be put on hold, while mas lovers feted in Skinner Park, as the facility was still the premier entertainment venue in San Fernando. Coudray later told members of the media that while there were plans for the development of Skinner Park, it was not among a number of mega projects in San Fernando which were on the government priority list. These included the Brian Lara Stadium, the South National Academy for the Performing Arts and the Chancery Lane complex. She also said she was disappointed that some of the problems identified by the sporting organisations were really maintenance issues which the administration had failed to address.