Letter to the Editor: Dianne Lawrence responds to all the negativity about the island

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

Letters-to-the-EditorDear Editor
I would very much like to respond to the folks who wrote negatively about our island community. I feel very bad that you did not enjoy our community on your last visit, and thank you for taking the time to raise your complaints in a public forum. I’ve only lived here (full-time) for nine years and have seen many changes.
When we were a smaller island, garbage was issue; we now have public trash bins on all major roads (thanks to Dr. Lala and his crew of student volunteers). But garbage remains an issue and the school system has a curriculum that impresses upon the next generation the importance of putting garbage in its place. We now have a proper garbage treatment center AND a bottle recycling center at Belikin.
While we grow as a community, please be patient. We are no longer the hidden gem of the Caribbean in your eyes, but we call it home. Please remember that on your two-week vacation. We know our community is not perfect, but we are trying. Some examples follow below.
The Sargasso seaweed has inundated the Caribbean for almost a year now. We can’t change that. Our beach cleaners move hundreds of tons of the smelly stuff each month in hopes of making the beaches nice for your visit; but the tide brings it in twice a day. Sometimes it is so thick that it can’t all be moved in one day.
Our roads – really? They are so much better than when I first arrived. Back then they were dirt & sand, with actual sink holes in the streets! So, for the few dirt & sand roads we still have, you need to know that they cannot be worked on while the rains are here. Yes, it’s a bummer but it’s true. Hard-rock won’t stay in the puddles without grading the road first. We live with this. That’s why we smile to the folks driving the cart on the other side of the puddle meaning ‘it’s not too deep here’, or ‘thanks for waiting’ or ‘I’ve seen it worse’.
As for the construction rubbish on the road side, some of it is set aside for removal to become landfill. Other bits will get processed at our trash plant. It may be an eye sore to you but at $350 to remove it, let’s get a full load!
Now we have the “super highway” over the bridge. Remember when it was un-passable in rainy season? We couldn’t rent a golf cart or peddle-bike even if it was an emergency! Yes, some people are enjoying the new found speed but the majority of us just like the access. As for signage and advertising on the roadside, please remember that not all businesses are in in the 21st Century, yet. We used to only advertise in the local papers for immediate needs and have road signs for more permanent displays. All road signs used to be done by local artists but now that we have some local folks with digital technology we have those hi-tech signs too, but the methodology remains the same until we catch up to places like Cancun. They have a 30 year head-start on us – we have had less than 10 years to meet your expectations.
Every inch of growth in this community takes time (volunteer or funded), money (raised, donated or granted) and a level of involvement from government (municipal, district or national) as well as the people to make it happen. Again I ask you to be patient. Accept our welcome smiles, our offers of assistance if needed and the host of propositions we already have in place – with plans of more to come.
As we build more resorts, we are ensuring jobs for the future. With that our education system expands (it’s confirmed, new schools coming soon!), we will have more qualified people to serve you in the manner you are accustomed. In the meantime, please enjoy our great service representatives, wonderful food establishments, fantastic local entertainment and wave hello on the road to the folks that call this island home.
/s/ Dr. Dianne Lawrence, AKA Quicksilver

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