Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Inconvenience troubles Hope Pastures walkers

Published:Saturday | October 1, 2016 | 10:00 AM

For several decades, the senior citizens and residents of Hope Pastures and surrounding communities have enjoyed the use of the grounds of the Hope Botanic Gardens as the centrepiece of their morning walk and exercise routine.

It is indeed one of the more pleasant places that can be found in St Andrew for this sort of activity. Some of our most estimable senior citizens and public servants have enjoyed walking the grounds as part of their morning ritual.

Sadly, this is no longer the case. The operators of the gardens have decided to lock off the Hope Pastures entrance to the gardens. For the morning walkers, they now must use Old Hope Road, through the main gate, to enter the gardens. Walking that distance in the pre-dawn is simply not viable for these senior citizens.

These citizens are now forced to use the roadways of Hope Pastures for their morning walk. They have to run the gauntlet of dogs, cars, and buses. Many of these walkers are well over 70 years old. Most of them have made stellar contributions to the country's education, health, and other sectors. They are now being effectively denied a simple pleasure to which they have grown accustomed.

Meanwhile, within the very gardens, vagrants have taken over and are cohabiting in one of the guard-houses, of all places. They systematically pollute and despoil the surrounding area with garbage. On any given morning, the gardens' stillness may be rudely disturbed, with bellicose voices acting out some twisted sort of domestic dispute. There is little to suggest that the operators of the gardens have taken any effective steps to block these persons from abusing the gardens.

I must point out that under the Public Gardens Regulations Act, the occupation of the gardens, as I have described it by these vagrants, is nothing short of a crime.

The operators, however, seem none too concerned about that. They are more interested in locking out our goodly senior citizens. Is this really the kinder, gentler society that we proclaim we are striving for? Is this in keeping with our much-talked-about Vision 2030? I think not. I think it is time we revise this decision.

Christopher O. Honeywell

Attorney-at-law

cohoneywell@cwjamaica.com