D’Urban Park and D’Urban Backlands bear the name of Sir Benjamin D’Urban, who was appointed governor of Demerara-Essequibo in 1824. He became, with the addition of Berbice in 1831, governor of British Guiana from 1831 to 1833. D’Urban Park was home to Guyana’s most famous racecourse. I remember when, as a child, I was taken to the horse races there, maybe in the early 1950s. I don’t know by whom, but I think it might have been ‘an uncle who has always been passionate about horse racing. I distinctly remember the crowd and the noise, over which the ringing and distinctive voice of the announcer, expertly modulated and rhythmic to evoke tension and excitement as the race drew to a close. This voice announced horse racing on the radio throughout my youth.
The announcer was Lloyd Luckhoo. The family’s love for horses and horse racing has transcended generations. Edward (‘Eddie’) Luckhoo, Lloyd’s son, who frequented D’Urban Park during the racing season as a schoolboy to care for his father’s horses, now owns racehorses himself. If invited, Eddie, who has a great knowledge of D’Urban Park horse racing, will expertly dissect recent horse racing events in the United States and beyond. By the way, in the following years, from the end of the 1970s and regularly for a little over ten years, I had the privilege of working, sometimes on the same side as, sometimes on the opposite side to Lloyd Luckhoo , having him then become a famous lawyer. We were part of a small group of lawyers, who represented a small group of clients in a particularly controversial area of civil litigation. That familiar Lloyd Luckhoo voice continued to ring in my ears as an adult.
While driving to work on Homestretch Avenue several times a week over the past few decades, I have felt for D’Urban Park, perhaps because of that fleeting childhood memory of his glory days, as he was overgrown with weeds, bushes and wild trees growing haphazardly. I have often wondered why it could not be set up as a real park for the citizens and visitors of Georgetown. It is large enough to accommodate trees and flower beds, a walkway for joggers around all or part of the perimeter, football, cricket and hockey fields as well as lawn tennis and basketball courts. , safe play areas for children, gardens and benches for relaxing, areas reserved for the sale of snacks, parking and other amenities. With its large open space, it can still become an oasis in an increasingly congested city, little by little invaded by square concrete structures of no aesthetic value, wild driving, double parking, reckless pedestrians, rude road users, infestation of minibuses, thunderous horns and streets littered with rubbish and potholes.
The government changed in 2015, and the new dispensation immediately manifested its character through the hasty and controversial construction in D’Urban Park of an ugly set of wooden structures, supposed to be booths for guests to listen to politicians celebrating the 50th anniversary. anniversary of Guyana’s independence in 2016 Two areas already existed and could have hosted such events – a renovated national park or the Providence stadium. Over time, it was realized that the structures of D’Urban Park reflected the low standards that the decades of mismanagement and poor condition of the city had engendered in the political hierarchy. It prevented the imagination from rising above the pedestrian. After the United States Embassy in the 1970s, nothing of a unique quality has been built in the city, even today as evidenced by the lodges of the Marriott and Pegasus hotels. And discover the unfinished monstrosity that houses the Department of Health in Upper Brickdam.
With the decline of Georgetown as a “garden city”, and with it the disappearance of its shady, tree-lined avenues, dark waterways, cobbled streets and colonial-style houses, the Government authorities also seemed to have lost interest in restoring it. even partially. The state of town hall, which has existed for at least 15 years, tells this sad story. By chance, the large space of D’Urban Park still exists, and it is available to create a place of beauty and recreation. At the northeastern edge of South Georgetown, its residents will benefit immensely from the beautification of this region.
One space in Georgetown that can similarly be developed as a green haven for residents and visitors to the city is the sprawling real estate estate adjoining Seawall Road. Unless the government booked hotels and other skyscrapers to create a skyline for Georgetown and feed the oil industry, which would be deeply unfortunate, this area can also be developed for the purpose of relaxation before the sellers set up their permanent residence there and cannot be moved. , like at the airport. It has always been used so much by the residents of Georgetown for over fifty years.
For those of us who live and work in the city, this will become “old” Georgetown. While a few rare voices seek to make it more livable, the ‘new’ Georgetown will take shape on the outskirts of the ‘old’, which will impress and overwhelm with its glittering mansions and high-rise office buildings. We need to raise our voices now to make “old” Georgetown a pleasant experience, and as “new” Georgetown takes shape, in an oil-fueled frenzy rejecting standards.
This column is reproduced, with permission, from Ralph Ramkarran’s blog, www.conversationtree.gy