August 10, 2012
Bequia Rotary not using property as agreed – Trustee

Trustees of the Lower Bay School (LBS) in Bequia want the island’s Rotary Club to leave the property not only because they didn’t pay their $1-a-year lease for 14 years.{{more}} The trustees want the Rotarians out because they use the property “for their own self- interest,” trustee Marie Kingston told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday.

Trustees in March told Rotarians they were ending the 99-year agreement because the service club had not paid the lease money.

But Kingston said their letter mentioned the money “because we are keeping it simple”.

“Nobody is really looking for $15 out of the Rotary. What they are looking for is how this asset is being used for the benefit of this community.”

Owners of the defunct LBS in the mid-1980s donated the property for community use and Parliament ordered that trustees be appointed to ensure this is done.

The Rotarians and the trustees in 1997 signed a 99-year lease of $1 per year, which also stipulated how the property was to be used.

And Kingston told SEARCHLIGHT the Clayton Olliverre headed Rotary Club were not using the LBS “for what the agreement was”.

She said the property was used to host fundraising dances where alcohol is sold.

Rotarians have told SEARCHLIGHT the property hosts weddings. They also showed this publication crockery used in their skills training programmes.

But Kingston said she does not believe current Rotarians — who discussed the agreement with SEARCHLIGHT last month — know what the lease says.

“The $1 a year was just proof of ownership. Who is missing a $1 a year? Nobody.” Kingston said.

She added that the property is owned by the people of Bequia “and not by a few people at Rotary to make a buck.”

The trustees have signed a new lease with Paradise Primary, a private, not-for-profit school part-owned by Sabrina Mitchell, daughter of former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell.

The previous landlord gave the school one year to relocate and it might close if it does not find a new place by the time classes restart on September 3.

“I know as soon as you mention the Mitchells it becomes a political issue. But it is not a political issue,” said Kingston, who accused Rotarians of making the issue political, to their benefit.

Kingston, who has been accused of being indebted to the Mitchells, said her years managing one of their hotels were mutually beneficial.

She said if the Rotarians believe that their agreement with the trustees is still valid, they could go to court.

“These delaying tactics have driven me crazy. That is why I have come back down here,” the Canada-based Kingston said.

“… The school year starts [early] September … [and] my primary concern is the children and they are being discriminated against,” Kingston further stated.

Meanwhile, Valcina Chambers, who says she is also a trustee for the LBS, told SEARCHLIGHT on Monday the other trustees have not informed her of the most recent developments.

“… all that is going on now, I heard it or I read it in the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper and I said, ‘Wow! All this is happening?’”

Chamber said she did not want to comment on the development until she has spoken to the Rotary Club and Paradise Primary.

She was also silent about the details of when and how she became a trustee, seemingly after one of the original trustees died.

Chambers said she believes original trustees Kingston and Bert King should speak about this.

The laws incorporating the LBS trustees say a board of governors must appoint or elect trustees.

But SEARCHLIGHT understands that the board has not functioned for years.

“I know a lot, but I can’t say much. I don’t want to say something and regret tomorrow,” Chambers, who said she was involved with the school from the beginning, said of the stalemate.

“All the other people came in after. … I was the one who went and look for the building so that we can buy it. I know how much the building cost and everything,” she said.

“It (the controversy) is not what we want for that place. We don’t like it, I am sure. And the person who founded that school, which is Ruth Mary Hill would not like what is going on.”

Chambers called for all the parties involved to discuss the issues.

“This thing is out of hand and it has [been] blown out of proportion. This isn’t nice, man. …

“We cannot have this kind of bickering and backbiting and talking. It is not worth it at the end of the day. It is not worth it,” Chambers said.

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