Restoration at Lapeyrouse
By Lara Pickford-Gordon Wednesday, October 24 2012
The Port-of-Spain Corporation has said recent work on the perimeter wall of the Lapeyrouse Cemetery on Tragarete Road, was a continuation of work previously done, and an attempt to stabilise the wall which over the years, was in a constant state of deterioration.
“The wall has the potential to collapse in an outward manner on to the sidewalk. There are cemetery structures behind, and onto the wall which will create forces to push it outward in the event of failure.
As a result, the general public will be in danger,” the Corporation Chief Executive Officer, Winnifred David, responded in a release to queries from Newsday. The internal of the wall was in an “even more deteriorated” state.
David said work was done on the northern boundary wall of the cemetery. This entailed repairing cracks and voids on the wall, and its capping.
“The works were a continuance of previous works carried out at the request of the Historical Restoration Unit, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, and the US Embassy, to commemorate the Perry Gate Memorial.”
In an interview, Rawle Mitchell, head of the unit, reported that when he saw the recent plastering work, he contacted the corporation advising that the plastering be halted, that the plaster be removed, and the wall restored to its original state. Mitchell said the wall was part of the historic site.
He said the Perry Gate project (in honour of American naval commodore Oliver Hazard Perry) was completed between March and April, and there was no phase two work to be done.
Last Friday PoS Mayor, Louis Lee Sing, along with members of Citizens for Conservation criticised the work on the wall, and Lee Sing and masons began chipping away at the cement. The masons continued the task, and are expected to be done by Monday. “The majority of elders are glad this (the cement) is coming off,” mason Clifford Lashley said.
In an interview yesterday Lee Sing said he received a report dated October 22 from David, but has not been able to have a meeting with her because she had not been in office for the past two days. He said a meeting of the Institutional Committee of the Corporation would be called to discuss her report. At a caucus meeting Monday he said “councillors were resolute this is not something that is accessible. We will see where we go from here.”
Told of Mitchell’s comments to the corporation, Lee Sing said this showed how the lines of communication were not clearly defined, and this was one of the reasons why he has called for public sector reform.
In the email response, David said there was no previous information identifying the boundary wall of Lapeyrouse as a historical monument, and the wall was repainted over the years. She said, “a request to render part shows the level of ambiguity about its historical significance.” If the wall is deemed a monument, the issue of painting the surface had to be addressed and no further rendering, or painting allowed.
She said, “In response to questions raised regarding works at the Lapeyrouse Cemetery. This matter is presently being investigated.” She reported that the corporation had “conversations” with Mitchell who agreed there was urgent need for restorative work on the entire perimeter wall. “We await a formal response,” David said.
She said it was an “engineering decision” that work be done on the wall. She said repair work including the Perry Gate was done March 12 to April 3 as part of a joint venture with the US Embassy and Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, for the official opening of the Perry Gate Memorial held on April 4. The work included, “repairs to the existing rubble masonry walls on either side East and West of the Perry Gate for a distance of approximately 25 feet, including plastering of the existing wall with a 1:2 mortar mix” by the corporation.
David said by letter dated August 30, the Works Ministry asked for an extension of the partnership for the Perry Gate Memorial between the Corporation, the US Embassy and ministry “for painting of the wall from the Gate to the north to Cipriani Boulevard corner.”
She said the painting was to be carried out by a crew of the US Navy Ship USS Underwood last month. For the painting to be done she said voids and defects had to be addressed.
“Attempts to carry out painting failed as a result of large voids, uneven surfaces, the inability of the paint to bond to the existing previously painted surfaces, and crumbling wall surfaces and copings. Plastering was the easiest, quickest and most consistent method,” she said.
Sections of the wall along Colville Street had been plastered.
Phase one of the work costing $6,000 and phase two $15,000 was funded through recurrent expenditure. She had “no comment” on the question of whether there was a rift with Lee Sing. In an interview Lee Sing said he has not gotten a response from the CEO.