(CMR) The Opposition Leader, North Side MLA The Honorable Ezzard Miller, is calling out the Minister of Sports for back-benching the needs of NS school children. After a 4 year wait, he has decided along with the PTA to utilize the summer break to fix the lingering problem.
In a press conference held yesterday morning, Miller provided a lengthy press statement with emails and photos detailing a 4-year-long standstill for modernizing the district playing field. He states that the Edna Moyle Primary School playing field is in a “deplorable state” and his efforts to spearhead a re-engineering of the field to safety and health standards have been met with obstacles from the Unity Government.
He stated that:
“Unfortunately, we are now at an impasse as a result of which we are announcing today contingency plans by the PTA and me to ensure that students of the Edna Moyle Primary School are afforded the basic right of access to a safe and healthy environment.”
Miller outlines how in 2014 he approached the government about allocating land-space for a playing field which the school never had. Once permission was granted there have been “continuing futile efforts” to bring the field up to standards.
The attached emails show a history of continued efforts to address some health and safety concerns and claims that numerous children have been injured as a result. One main concern is that the lower elevation of the field causes polluted runoff from the nearby main road to settle where the kids have to play. Part of the area it runs over is a septic tank his statement indicates. He also highlighted concerns about tainted water containing oil, carbon emissions and other pollutants running into and settling on the field.
The Opposition Leader also states that the field is largely unsafe because of the littered rocks, weeds, and stones – the uneven terrain causes injuries to the primary school users. He outlines the various efforts to rectify these which included reaching out to private vendors and the Ministry of Education. After unsatisfactory and unfulfilled promises he is now calling out the Ministry for what he says is a lackluster response.
After numerous unfulfilled funding promises a PTA parent decided to fund the field project out of pocket. He subsequently purchased artificial turf at a bidding auction overseas for US$20,000. After meeting with the Chief Officer for Education and Public Works Department representatives to discuss the elevation and design of a track Miller contends that he continued to get the runaround. At this point, the artificial turf remains in storage accruing both port and storage fees. Currently, fees exceed CI$21,000.00.
Concerns raised by the Minister in a July 13th email state that (1) government does not have the funding (2) there were health concerns associated with the artificial turf. Miller criticizes the ministry for lacking information on this specific turf which he alleges has no known health risks. He also sees the late-stage response that provides no government-led solution as contradictory, disingenuous and unproductive.
Miller states that he is still open to the government stepping up to the plate and doing right by the children of North Side.