PIERO GUERRINI, owner of Mt Plaisir Estate Hotel, says, contrary to comments made by PNM councillor for Toco/Fishing Pond Terry Rondon, his famed beachfront property is not in imminent danger but simply experiencing a river shifting at Grande Riviere which now seems to occur about every ten years.
On Saturday, the river course diverted closer to the hotel, similar to a situation in 2012, which attracted international infamy because of the way the Ministry of Works and Transport sought to rectify the situation at the time.
Heavy machinery was used to manually shift the river to its original course, resulting in the death of endangered leatherback turtles and hatchlings at Grande Riviere, a particularly well-known nesting site.
The river will again be diverted. but heavy machinery will not be used in this instance.
Guerrini's building sustained damage in 2012 but his structure was fixed, and he said there is nothing to suggest it is in imminent danger again, unlike the assertions made by Rondon.
On Sunday, Newsday spoke with Rondon, who said the team at the Sangre Grande Corporation, co-ordinated by Terrance Maxime, mobilised quickly after heavy rain caused the river to overflow on Saturday. He also said guests cut their stay short and suggested the hotel would not be able to stand any more rainfall.
But the Italian Guerrini, whose business started almost 30 years ago, countered, "Some people called me and said they have bookings for next month. (They ask) 'So we cannot come because the hotel is in danger?' I said no, that's not the reality."
He said the river came very close but not to create any kind of damage to the structure or even create an inconvenience to the visitors.
"As a matter of fact," Guerrini said, "it has improved the attraction, because everybody now, you can just sit in the water right there in front of the hotel."
After the 2012 incident, the Institute of Marine Affairs released a report, which read, "Success and miscarriages were both present in the handling of the impacts of the river shifting event as it relates to both the anthropogenic and ecologically important physical environment.
Among its conclusions, it said, "The use of heavy machinery and construction of features not native to the receiving environment is not advised."
Guerrini said, "The river in that situation was even closer. And because the building was in a certain way, it did affect some of the foundation, but after that I did change it. I don't think we're in imminent danger of anything."
He said the MP for Toco/Sangre Grande Roger Munroe visited the hotel and together, they are working on a plan.
"Everybody is on the same page. We are going to intervene by hand. We are going to redirect the river with the help of all the villagers. The beach is not just for me but for everyone in the village."
With respect to the use of heavy machinery and the damage done to the eggs and hatchlings in 2012, Guerrini said, "It was really bad, the image we gave to the whole world, where bulldozers and backhoes entered into a protected area."
He vowed never to allow such an incident to happen again.
"Unfortunately, I was not there the day that they dug (using heavy machinery) because I would have been standing in front of those machines...believe me."
Guerrini said many believe the river course changes about every ten years, and assuming accelerated climate change is a factor, all stakeholders must be prepared for more frequent incidents.