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Friday 19 July 2019
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A vision for Skinner Park

Proposal to build playing field on underground car

Audience member Gerard Homer raises the issue of wind direction during a Udecott presentation to stakeholders on plans for upgrading Skinner Park, San Fernando, Trinidad on Monday June 24, 2019. Photo by Yvonne Webb
Audience member Gerard Homer raises the issue of wind direction during a Udecott presentation to stakeholders on plans for upgrading Skinner Park, San Fernando, Trinidad on Monday June 24, 2019. Photo by Yvonne Webb

DESIGNING for the future and maximising limited space is the revolutionary concept employed for the redevelopment of Skinner Park in San Fernando.

Cabinet has approved the first phase of the upgrade for the park – an iconic multi-use facility. Initially designed for sports, it has been expanded to embrace culture and community.

The concept, which proposes a 6,000-seating accommodation facility up from 3,000, will require additional parking in the tightly squeezed urban area enclosed by schools, a cultural centre, a highway, a shopping mall and multiple businesses.

Stakeholders were shown proposed plans for the upgrade of Skinner Park, San Fernando, Trinidad during a presentation on Monday June 24, 2019. Photo by Yvonne Webb

NLBA Architects, the firm conducting the second phase of this project, primarily in the area known as the second-class grounds has been mandated to create a space to accommodate an additional 500-car parking space within the existing boundaries.

To maximise the limited space, a novel approach had to be taken to integrate the car park into the landscape while protecting the trees, the walking and jogging tracks, and the green field, considered “the lungs of San Fernando.”

Udecott has been engaged by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs to provide project management services for the design construct services of the redevelopment.

Plans were unveiled in San Fernando last Monday evening and Johann Lambkin of Yorke Structures Ltd, the main contractor on the project, along with architect Ravi Ramkhelawan of NLBA made presentations on phase one priced at $120 million and phase two which is still subject to Cabinet’s approval.

The first phase, catering for the physically-challenged, will include the upgrade of the cycling track, pavilion, enhanced mayor’s box, and corporate boxes to help make the facility self-sustainable, as well as concessionaires, indoor multi-purpose courts, change room facilities for players and officials, an outdoor basketball court with its own bleachers, elevators and offices for the sporting clubs which use the park.

Ravi Ramkhelawan of NLBA Architects presents plans for upgrading Skinner Park, San Fernando during a presentation to stakeholders at the North San Fernando community centre, San Fernando, Trinidad on Monday June 24, 2019. Photo by Yvonne Webb

Ramkhelawan presented a conceptual design of three revolutionary options, one of which he hopes will get the nod from Cabinet, when it is presented in the coming weeks.

While the model has been around for more than quarter of a century, Ramkhelawan has proposed for the first time in TT – a conceptual design for an underground car park with a playing field built on the top of the roof. Cost will determine whether a grass or synthetic turf is installed.

On the roof of the underground car park, NLBA has also been mandated to incorporate a vending strip for the relocation of vendors from Cross Crossing, plus some 72 more parking spaces for the after-hours food consumers.

The challenge is to ensure safety and proper ventilation, rework underground sewer lines and save the trees and existing spectator stand.

The second and third options are above ground parking: proposed graded three tier level car parks, stacked one on top of the other and a turf built on the top. Reduction of the field is included, but as Ramkhelawan insisted, the design is conceptual and can be changed.

ASJA Boys College principal Alim Ali said the grand design is far superior to anything he has seen in TT and in the Caribbean.

Proposed concession stands for the upgrade of Skinner Park, San Fernando, Trinidad. Photo by Yvonne Webb

Skinner Park was gifted to the people of San Fernando by GC Skinner, then manager of the Ste Madeleine Sugar Company back in 1926.

Excited about the project, San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello said the park has been languishing for a long time. He said it has not benefited from any major development since 1966, when then mayor Errol Mahabir had lights and the cycling track installed.

Johann Lambkin of York Structures addresses the audience during Udecott’s presentation to stakeholders on the plans for the upgrade of Skinner Park at the North San Fernando community centre, San Fernando, Trinidad on June 24, 2019. Photo by Yvonne Webb

Regrello said it was an opportune time to develop this landmark facility that is on the cusp of development, alongside the San Fernando Waterfront Development project and Chancery Lane complex that would augur well for the future of the southern city.

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