I recently took a morning walk through Road Town. A former resident of the capital for almost 30 years, one of my favourite and most frequented areas is the Botanic Station Avenue.
As a cultural worker and aficionado, educator, parent and grandparent, that area has brought me enormous joy and hope for the development of the civic district and cultural village we have long been awaiting. Our public library, national archives, museum, theatre/auditorium, and art gallery have been promised for this space for decades and decades.
Various facilities have heralded the beginning of that promise, including the J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens, the Althea Scatliffe Primary School, the Enid Scatliffe Pre-primary School, the Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre, the Boy Scout and Girl Guides Club, the Sir Rupert Briercliffe Hall, the A.O. Shirley Recreation Grounds, the Multi-purpose Sports Complex, the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum, the Road Town Senior Citizens Centre, and the BVI Red Cross Headquarters.
But we’ve not only been stuck in time, we’ve regressed! We’ve lost half or more of these facilities in that socially and culturally vibrant space!
In more recent times, even before the 2017 hurricanes, the increasing neglect, dilapidation and destruction of this beautiful and promising part of the capital has caused me to avoid it as much as possible. The sadness has been too unbearable.
But during my recent morning walk, I braved it. First stop, Botanic Gardens. Closed. Two tourists and I stood outside the gate in vain. I looked down the avenue and decided to walk it to the end and back. It was hard. As I walked, my heart kept crying, “OMG! What is wrong with us?”