It is currently “not possible” to rebuild the Belle Vue gym because of the high number of facilities damaged during the 2017 hurricanes, but government hopes to tackle the project eventually, according to Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley.
“It is important to note that the Belle Vue gym was in need of major repairs even before Hurricane Irma in 2017, but this government is committed to fixing it because we recognise the importance of having adequate recreational facilities so that our youths can be engaged in meaningful activities,” Dr. Wheatley said in the House of Assembly on Oct. 17 in response to questions from opposition member Alvera Maduro-Caines, who represents the Sixth District, where the gym is located.
As an interim measure, Dr. Wheatley asked his team to obtain an estimate to build an outdoor basketball court on the existing site, he said, adding that the funds from the upcoming budget would be enough to complete the project within a few months.
Ms. Maduro-Caines said she recalled a meeting where estimates were discussed for both an outdoor court and a gym “similar to the one that was in Virgin Gorda” and she asked Dr. Wheatley to search for the estimates within his ministry.
Dr. Wheatley (R-D7) responded that he would ask his project officer about the estimates and said he hoped that step would “speed up the process.”
He also pointed out in his remarks that all recreational facilities were destroyed by Hurricane Irma, and that his ministry has placed a “high priority” on restoring recreational facilities in a “phased approach.”
He went on to say that the basketball courts in Purcell Estate, Greenland, West End, Cappoons Bay, and Carrot Bay have already been restored, and that his ministry is in the process of restoring the Jeffrey Caines Arena in Virgin Gorda and lighting the E. Walwyn Brewley Softball field in Road Town.