by Concerned Citizen
Land ownership in Grenada has traditionally been a source of pride for locals. Title documents have been passed down through generations, and the right to own land has been something that locals hold in high regard, and guard fiercely.
It stands to reason that any threat to those rights by external forces would be met with ire and affront from a broad cross-section of the public.
In recent weeks, the residents of Fort Jeudy, a private development in the south of the Island, have come under the microscope for the lowering of a gate and the placement of a guard at the entrance to the area. Many Grenadians were quick to condemn the actions of the residents of Fort Jeudy, and some even went as far as to call on the “government” to mandate that they remove the gate and not restrict access to the development.
On the surface, the discerning Grenadian would automatically not get caught up in that discussion, because as far as many have always known, Fort Jeudy is a private development, similar to Westerhall Point, and other private developments around the Island and around the world.
The rights of the residents to protect their property against real or perceived threats should not come as a surprise — and again, to the discerning local, it did not. Why? Because ownership of property and the right to enjoy one’s property in peace and comfort is something that we cherish and hold dear — whether that property is in Mt Carmel or Molinere; Telescope or Tanteen; Westerhall Point or The Point. If we hold the title, then we own it, and we have the right to bar trespassers, especially those who are disorderly, overly litter the community, insult residents and drive irresponsibly.
Combine that with a newly discovered “attraction site” and we have a perfect brew for a public storm.
But, let us not be so quick to vilify the residents of the Fort Jeudy development.
Upon examining the facts — yes, there are facts in this case, as there is in every case — the residents of this particular development have done nothing wrong, and contrary to opinion in some circles, they are within their right.
I must hasten to add though, that there were a couple of critical oversights on the part of the Fort Jeudy Association, that, had they employed, the backlash might have been minimised. Firstly, the recently lowered gate and the positioning of a security guard are not new installations. In fact, in the early days of the development, those were regular fixtures, in much the same way as other developments around the Island and world. Had those been maintained over the years, everyone would have been used to them by now; in much the same way as we have become accustomed to in other private developments.
Secondly, the residents should have, or could have informed the public ahead of the action, so that public awareness and education could have mitigated against the backlash seen after they took action.
Now, be that as it may, let’s not ignore the facts that I alluded to earlier. What are the facts?
- The Fort Jeudy development is privately owned. The lots were bought by residents and they hold the titles to their land and property.
- The roads in the development are privately funded by the residents of the development and the original owner — not the taxpayers of Grenada.
- The gates in gated communities are often not meant to prevent access, but to control access.
- The Blowhole, which is the “epicentre” of the recent controversy, is on private property.
- In fact, the Blowhole is on several private properties in the development, and to access the Blowhole, visitors must trespass — and yes, it is trespassing.
Now, in sum, and as I wrap up, picture this: Many years ago, you invested your life savings in a piece of property, in a private development. You did so because you believe you earned it and that it is the place you want to return to after a hard day’s work, or the place in which you want to retire, and spend your days languishing to the cool sea breeze, or gently blowing wind. It’s a quiet, secure area, where residents know each other and look out for each other. A community predominantly made up of born and raised Grenadians — a village in which you want your children to be raised.
Fast forward many years later and enter Covid-19 and a national lockdown. Exit the lockdown and someone or group promotes that on your property, there is a “site of interest.” Without warning, your property becomes viewing point central. Every day, loads of people come onto your property to hang out and view the Blowhole. In the process, they have parties; drink alcohol, litter and do not clean up after themselves. They are often excessively loud and boisterous, and they hurl insults when neighbours ask that they not park in front of home entrances, or that they keep the level of noise down.
Now, you are faced with an onslaught of adventure-seekers and sightseers, clamouring for activities in the aftermath of a national lockdown.
What would you do, if you were one of the residents depicted here? Wouldn’t you long for the peace, comfort and security of yore, and wouldn’t you do what you could to caution the public and control the access? After all, the access you are controlling is to your property.
Let us not forget the most important point of this diatribe. The access being restricted or controlled in this story is for private property — not public.
I am not a resident of Fort Jeudy or any other private development, but I do believe that I would do the same on my property.
So, before we blow too much more steam over the blowhole, let us stop and consider for a moment that sometimes barriers are not meant to insulate those within, but to protect them, as well.