No repairs have been made recently to the broken air conditioning system at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex, which was damaged in the 2017 hurricanes, according to Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley.
Speaking in response to a question from Opposition Leader Marlon Penn during a July 31 House of Assembly meeting, Dr. Wheatley (R-D7) said the unit was “brought back online” for the first sitting of the HOA after the Feb. 25 general election, but it broke down again two days later.
He added that he was unable to provide the cost for the repairs to the system, and that the damage was so extensive that the original vendor advised a full replacement.
Currently, he is inquiring into the cost and time-frame of replacing the unit and will request the money in the next budget, he explained.
In the meantime, he said, his ministry is renting an air conditioning unit from Quality Air and Refrigeration, which cost $49,500 to rent from May 25 to Aug. 8, so that the centre could host the Miss BVI Pageant, as well as various cheerleading competitions, graduations, parties and other events.
In response to questions from Second District Representative Mitch Turnbull, the minister also said government is in discussions with an architect to design a new Jost Van Dyke School, which was destroyed in the 2017 hurricanes. A site visit has been arranged for this month, he said.
“We should see progress in the near future,” the minister added, but he did not give an exact timeline.
He added that his ministry is in discussions with the Ministry of Finance to reallocate money from the Caribbean Development Bank recovery loan to finance the construction of the school. He said the expected date of completion depends on those discussions and on the process of approving designs and awarding contracts.
Once the designs are completed, he said, they will be provided to the HOA.
Mr. Turnbull also inquired about repairs to the basketball court at the Ivan Dawson Primary School, which he said has been “in desperate need of resurfacing and painting for over 20 years.”
Dr. Wheatley said the ministry would not be able to resurface and paint the court in time for the 2019-2020 school year because the project was not funded under this year’s budget.
He added that the ministry would have to ask for funding in the 2020 budget to conduct the repairs, but did not say whether it would do so or not.
For the Diamond Estate basketball court, he said, $26,000 was included in the 2019 budget.
However, the ministry conducted a site visit on Jan. 18 and determined that this funding was not enough for all of the needed repairs, according to Dr. Wheatley.
The funds will enable the resurfacing of the court, he said, adding that estimates are being prepared and that work “will commence soon.”
Dr. Wheatley also said that educators will receive their increments “in conjunction with the guidelines set forth by the Department of Human Resources” and that payments would commence the same day he was speaking, July 31.