On ‘death row’
The Gap needs urgent financial aid, says spokesman
The spokesman for St Lawrence Gap, Maxwell And Dover Residents Association, Adrian Donovan, today called for an urgent financial injection to save the once bustling entertainment spot from “death row”.
“A financial stimulus needs to be injected into The Gap for its revival, because at present it is on death row. There is no maintenance programme in place and the product looks really run-down. The Gap is too dark; there are a number of lights that are not working and need to be fixed,” Donavan complained.
His cries were echoed by businessman Valance Eastmond, who said The Gap in Christ Church had the potential to become a major tourist and cultural attraction, but at the moment little or nothing was being done.
“You see this street, it should be like daylight in the night,” he argued, while suggesting that the National Cultural Foundation should put more emphasis on The Gap and seek to utilize Bajan characters such as the Mother Sally to enhance the experience of vistors to the South Coast stretch.
“Put a Mother Sally walking down the street, put a juggler in a corner there, a limbo dancer somewhere else, the Green Monkey, some stilt-men, men ’pon de steel pan, a man blowing fire and so on . . . . The NCF [National Cultural Foundation] can pay these people and they can still get tips on the street and we will get some life in The Gap,” Eastmond explained.
“I want every door coming down this street to be buzzing, ’cause the potential for everybody will be more,” he said.
As a Barbados TODAY team walked through The Gap yesterday, a common sight was For Sale signs on properties. Missing were the big names, such as the After Dark and The Ship Inn. The once popular McBride’s was also a shell of its former self with upturned chairs and padlocked doors as business owners cried out that life in The Gap was “dead”.
“We are supposed to be the entertainment capital of Barbados. We are catering to people to come and stay here, so that they could enjoy our nightlife, but yet they want us to turn off our music at one or 2 a.m. –– and they advertise it: Barbados, St Lawrence Gap, the entertainment capital,” lamented Eastmond, the owner of Fire And Soul Island Grill & Lounge, who has embarked on a massive $150,000 refurbishment exercise to “spruce up the place” and attract more people to his business.
Herman Maloney, part owner of the Crave Restaurant and Reggae Lounge, agreed with Eastmond. He said that cut-off time was a big contributor to the lacklustre vibe on the street.
“The Gap is known basically for late partying. I mean you had places like After Dark, The Ship Inn. They stayed open till the first bus run. Now the police come around and you got to close. There is no reasoning with them,” Maloney complained.
The businessman said things were “so bad in the Gap”, proprieters had been trying different things to keep their doors open –– such as working with party promoters.
“My partner and I almost run the Lounge by ourselves right now. We used to have four or five guys in there, but now you have no money to pay them . . . . We only have one security now that works with a scan at the door to make sure no one comes in with a weapon.”
The cry is the same for craft vendor D. Williams and taxi man Bryan Davis who have been plying their trade in St Lawrence Gap for the past five years.
“I am not complaining exactly,” Williams said adding: “Sometimes you make a little, sometimes you don’t. People are coming by, but they are not shopping because they are complaining that things are too expensive. It’s bad. During the last three years I have had to reduce my prices,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Williams, who works 14-hour shifts from Sunday to Sunday, pointed to necklace sets which sold for $40 before –– they are “now selling for BDS$20 and they still asking you sell it for $15”.
Davis, who is connected to one of the hotels, described the situation as simply “tough”.
“Everything has slowed in The Gap and I am hoping and praying that the [winter] season turns out to be a good season,” Davis said, while sitting on a guard wall next to his closed taxi car.
But while Eastmond and Maloney blamed time restrictions and condominium life for the decline of life in St Lawrence Gap, W. King, who mans Jan-Frank’s Cocktail Bar, puts the blame solely at the feet of those he called “hustlers”.
“Before the guests would normally come out and stay out. They don’t do that now because of the hustlers; they are the ones causing The Gap to be so bad. From the time visitors come out on the streets the beach bums begging and harassing, and all of those things; that is what is causing The Gap to be dead,” said King.
A former businessman who has lived in the area for the past 16 years, charged the problem stemmed from a zoning conflict.
“St Lawrence Gap has a zoning problem; you cannot have luxury, housing and commercial entities on the same street. That should not be; it will not work. Everything else is just simply excuses,” said the resident, who did not want to be identified.
However, Sean Defreitas, who still operates a business in The Gap, suggested otherwise.
“Like everything else in Barbados, we need to work together to make things work. You can’t work only for what you want or I want. We got to work together; it takes two hands to clap.
“St Lawrence Gap was always a shared corridor with both visitors, people living in the area, as well as businesses. So if it is a shared corridor, you have to figure out how you are going to use that corridor,” Defreitas told Barbados TODAY.
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