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Govt silent on Country Club’s future

Friday, April 13 2007

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WORK IN PROGRESS:  Clearing works underway on one part of the grounds at the Trinidad Country Club in Maraval. ...
WORK IN PROGRESS: Clearing works underway on one part of the grounds at the Trinidad Country Club in Maraval. ...

GOVERNMENT yesterday refused to say whether or not it plans to demolish the Trinidad Country Club in Maraval and build a five-star hotel on the lands which the historical landmark now occupies.

Meanwhile, business and residential owners in the area yesterday said they were unaware of any plans to build a hotel on the site of the Country Club.

Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony for the construction of the BroadGate Plaza in South Quay on Tuesday, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said Government was discussing the use of the land which the Country Club is located for the construction of a major five-star hotel. Club owner Joseph Fernandes has since said he knew of no talks with Government to acquire the Club’s lands to build a hotel.

When Government was asked at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at Whitehall whether it was in talks with Fernandes to acquire the Club’s lands, demolish the Club and build a hotel there, the Government said it “was in no position to shed any light on that matter.” The Government said its main priority is widening the intersection of Saddle Road and Long Circular Road (where the Country Club is located) to improve the traffic flows there. Government noted that this project has been on the cards since 1970 and its UNC predecessor had done only part of the works required in that area. Part of these works involved Government acquiring part of the Club’s lands to widen the road.

Government said it understood the reasons for Fernandes’ attachement to the land which has been in his family for a long time. The Government added that the land was legally acquired in accordance with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. When Newsday visited the Country Club yesterday, clearing works were continuing at the lower end of the property while a children’s lawn tennis camp was being held on the opposite end of the property. Club officials said Fernandes was in office but would not be able to speak with Newsday about whether he got any further information about the plans which Manning referred to. However a source claimed that Fernandes was very upset about the Prime Minister’s statement and was considering his options.

Historical records show that the land which the Country Club currently occupies was formerly a colonial 670-acre estate called the Champs Elysees which was obtained by Frenchman Monsieur Philippe Roume de St Laurent from the Spanish government on behalf of his family. The Roume de St Laurent family subsequently purchased five additional parcels of land in the area to expand the estate (now the Country Club) to its present size.

A house was built there in 1780 as part of the Champs Elysees estate that was owned by the de Gannes family. The estate was sold to the de Boisierre family in 1820. A house built on the estate by that family was destroyed in a fire in 1867.

The Country Club came into existence in 1931 and was purchased by JB Fernandes in 1955. The Club has remained in the Fernandes family ever since and has been the location for several premier social events over the years.

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