Dr Bishnu Ragoonath

Tempers flared on Saturday on the grounds outside of Skinner Park, San Fernando, with members of the football fraternity and other stakeholders and San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello as works to develop a drive-in cinema started.

Stakeholders said they were not consulted about the works to be done and objected to the construction of the 15 by 15 feet screen at the site. The drive-in cinema will be at the location for three months and is expected to open on June 26. It will accommodate 150 vehicles and will open on weekends—Fridays to Sunday—from 6 pm to 8 pm.

When Guardian Media arrived, businessmen were busy painting the stands and in the process of putting up the screen.

General secretary of the Southern Football Association Alexandrine Elliott-Procope questioned who are the people that welcomed the initiative to introduce the drive-in cinema. “Was it the people of Embacadere, because they cannot go on the Gulf View grounds? I am not throwing stones at nobody, especially at the PNM. Why weren’t we informed? We decided to take a stand now.”

But Regrello hit back, “That is your agenda. This is not political, this is about San Fernando. This is not a PNM thing. If allyuh want a conversation I am for that. If allyuh want to fight I coming back with gloves for that. I am open to conversation. I don’t have on no boxing gloves but I am not afraid of none of allyuh. This is based on the Government’s decision and policy.

He said Skinner Park was given to the people for recreation, sports and entertainment. “It doesn’t belong to me. There are people who require entertainment as well. It doesn’t belong to the sporting organisation.”

Regrello said a month ago the council was approached by a group of young entrepreneurs for an opportunity and in light of this unprecedented time, where entertainment has dwindled or doesn’t exist at all, they came up with this novel idea of having a drive-in cinema. He said the promoters got approvals from all the required institutions, including the T&T Police Service and Fire Services.

Aaron Williams, part promoter of the Xperience brand, said the availability of the other venues (Twilight and Brian Lara Stadium) are unsure and a partnership was struck between the City of San Fernando and the Xperience committee.

Williams said, “To use this facility means as well providing enough space for the football enthusiasts and the walking and exercising persons to use the facility. But we are looking at solutions to use this location as it is a city space and we will be creating employment as well as beautifying the space.”

Elliott-Procope said between ten to 15 youth clubs use the park for the development of the sport, with people from ages three to 20 years.

She said about 2,000 people use Skinner Park. The clubs are gearing up to return to the park on the June 22.