Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Fighting to reclaim green space - Albion residents want land returned to them

Published:Saturday | April 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ Senior Staff Reporter
Junior Goldson and Marlene McGowan (left) view a diagram of Albion Estates identifying, among other things, the community playing field. At right is another resident, Annie Smith.
Annie Smith, resident of Albion Estates in St Thomas, walking along a track on a playing field that the community claims was originally designated for a green space. The land has been sold to a private individual.
A copy of a map of Albion Estates that identifies an area as a playing field. This four-acre property, which was reportedly designated for the community’s green space, had been sold to a private individual, leaving the neighbourhood with no recreational area.

Frustrated and battle-worn but refusing to relent! This depicts the mood of Annie Smith, a resident of Albion Estates in St Thomas, who has been fighting for more than 20 years to reclaim four acres of land that had been originally designated for green space but was sold to a private individual.

Smith's predicament mirrors that of many of the residents in the community that have been clamouring for access to the land set aside for recreation.

"We don't have any playing field to exercise, or to walk. A lot of returning residents live in the community. We need action now - not because we don't block road and burn tyre," an apparently irritated Smith told the Gleaner news team during a recent visit to the area.

Unable to solve the puzzle of how the land was sold to a private person in the first instance, another resident, Marlene McGowan, questioned whether proper checks and balances had been done before the title was transferred.

"When those things come before the Land Agency, where (a person) must go to transfer title, they should have known that this area was designated as a playing field and could not be sold. So how did that sale go through and that person got a title?" she queried.


Seeking Gov't help


McGowan is urging the Government to engage the community in a discussion as to how it can reclaim its green space and recreational area. She suggested that the Government should seek to acquire the property on behalf of the community, noting that the current owner was apparently oblivious that the land was originally designated for the community's green space.

Albion Estates was established in 1967 with Lot 998 Albion Estates, Albion Boulevard, identified as the community's playing field. However, eight years later, the land was sold to a private individual. The property subsequently changed hands three times.

Junior Goldson, who has lived in the community for nearly half a century, told The Gleaner that the property was first sold to the late Eugene Clarence Miller in 1975. However, despite changing ownership three times, no development has taken place on the land.

Residents showed The Gleaner a copy of the annual land taxes for the property, which indicated that the amount to be paid was in the sum of $1,000. They questioned how the property tax for four acres of prime land could be $1,000 in a community where the average property tax charge for residential lots is $13,000.