Seventy service lots have been distributed by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Settlements, Urban Renewal and Public Utilities.
Addressing the recipients at the Courland Park Development site on Monday, Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, who is also the representative for Black Rock/ Whim/ Spring Garden, under which the area falls, thanked them for their patience, as they have been waiting for some time.
“I know hitherto what you had was a situation where the lots were allocated, but today begins the process of distribution, and that is key,” he said.
He said the state-of-the-art facility, wastewater and sewer facilities took some time, “But thank God, we are at the point where all the civil works are completed. You have beautifully paved roads, the survey for phase one has been completed and we are on the threshold of moving to the next step where you would be able to, over time, get your leases.”
Charles said land is often underrated as a source of wealth, and the recipients, are one step closer to owning a piece of land and earning wealth.
“You need to understand the value that you would be getting as a beneficiary of a piece of land here. Added to that, you’re starting with a plus. Next door – and for those of you that would be occupying this phase – there is a recreational ground that is soon to be upgraded. Next to that you have the Black Rock Katzenjammers pan theatre and not too far from that is the Starfish Hotel.
"When you think of that, you already begin to think of the value of this piece of real estate being appreciated over the years to come. So the subsidised price that some of you have paid or will pay will be nothing compared to the real value of the lands at the end of the day,” he said, adding that a lot of things were in train for those likely to take up residence, including a soon-to-be-built early childhood care and education centre.
Secretary of the division Clarence Jacob said the distribution had been long in coming, adding that the recipients have been patient.
“You have held on to hope and today, your prayers have been answered.
“This Courland Park Development project is one of the priority projects that I inherited when I assumed office. As the secretary, I found myself, along with my administrator, having to take a hands-on approach to see the project completed. The contractors and project managers may have grown weary hearing my voice and seeing my face on this project, but my main goal was to ensure that this project was delivered and handed over to the people who needed it most,” he said.
The project consists of 116 service lots in phase one. Jacob said there would be a total of four phases.
“The development of this project was separated into two phases. The first phase saw the development of service lots and the second phase the construction of the sewer treatment plant. In future, the plant will service all four phases in the Courland Park development as well as surrounding facilities in Black Rock and surrounding areas,” he said, adding that a key feature of the park is the underground facilities infrastructure, similar to that at Homes of Adventure in Plymouth.
The division's administrator, Claire Davidson-Williams, described the distribution as a “milestone achievement".
“We remain cognisant of our objective to provide housing and lands for the large segment of our population that’s not capable of securing affordable home opportunities on the open market,” she said adding that the exercise was a reaffirming of the division’s commitment “that we would continue to work assiduously in our efforts to meet the mandate and to achieve the goals envisaged by our secretary.”
Some of the recipients, speaking with Newsday after the distribution, thanked the assembly. Some said they had been waiting over five years, while others had waited less than two years.