Rio Claro residents are concerned about what it believes to be the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation’s attempt to “convert the Rio Claro Scale House to a private enterprise.” The Rio Claro Heritage Festival Committee has called on the corporation to cease any action to adjust the Scale House and to hold public consultation to get the community’s views on the matter.
The Scale House, the committee said in a release to Newsday, “is an established historical and heritage site” which, through the years, has become “the common legacy of all people of Rio Claro and its environs.” The group added that it considered the corporation’s act a “desecration of a sacred site” in its community and “a betrayal of the community interests.” In a letter dated July 12 to the Ako Mutota, chairperson of the festival committee, Margaret McDowall, chairman of the National Trust of TT said, the Scale House was on the trust’s Heritage Asset Register.
“This register is the official list of TT’s historic sites that are worthy of notation and preservation. The register is authorised by the Council of the National Trust of TT’s Council. In the case of the Scale House, while the actual building is not an original building, the site is very important in the cultural and social history of Rio Claro and for this reason, it was placed on the Heritage Asset Register.
A sign marking the location was placed on the site by the National Trust in 2015 and indicates clearly the significance of the site and the fact that the National Trust has recognised it as a heritage site,” the letter added.
Based on this, McDowall said in the letter, the trust was expected to be consulted on use of the site. The trust, in its letter, added that as a nationally recognised site “in the public domain” and as a gathering space for the Rio Claro community, “it would be most inappropriate to change its use into a privately operated commercial space.”
It added that the Commissioner of State Lands, as the ultimate owner of the space, would also need to approve the change and would most likely consult with the National Trust, as the Scale House is identified as a heritage site. Before sending out tenders for re-use of the space, the trust said, the corporation would also have to seek approval from the Town and Country Planning Division.
The Scale House was used to weigh cane and other products. Calls to Glen Ram, chairman of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation went unanswered.