EDITORIAL: Good riddance to a building long past its best

IT’S the end of an era – and not before time.

The demolition of the old General Post Office on East Hill Street began yesterday. It will not be missed. An ugly carbuncle on the landscape, its horrendous appearance outside was matched by an interior that had long passed its best before date.

The Tribune’s reporters would often hear tales of workers having to put up with mould, or burst water pipes damaging mail – even staff having to fight off rats in the building.

It’s been a long time since its better years, but even then it was an unattractive building out of keeping with the landscape around it.

More than anything, as those years went by, it seemed such a waste of a location too. It took up such a huge amount of space near Downtown, rather than using that space for something that could spark the development of the whole area.

You can understand why Downtown Nassau managing director Ed Fields was so excited to see the start of its removal.

“When you look at the port, the demolition of the Post Office building and the Central Bank to come, it’s major works being done for Downtown and it can only have a positive impact on the smaller businesses going forward,” he said.

“This is monumental stuff to see this level of transformation. We’ve been crying out for many, many years to revitalise Downtown and this is the earnest commencement of that.”

It is just a beginning, but one that we’ve been longing to see. If other developments can help the whole area to flourish, we look forward to a Downtown where retailers are battling to secure spaces rather than seeing empty units grow by the week. We look forward to streets where retailers keep those units in good condition, rather than seeing fading shop fronts and decaying balconies.

This is also a great time to get these developments done – when things have ground to a halt otherwise. It puts money in construction worker’s pockets and avoids disruption to the tourist economy.

Well done, all round. Let this be the spark to encourage others to continue the transformation.

Drop in the bucket

The Minister of Social Services, Frankie Campbell, said that 1,000 of those who applied for rental assistance will be given $1,200 this month.

That may sound substantial – but it is a one-off payment. He said this assistance is given only once a year.

We all know how much rent costs – so this is little more than a drop in the bucket for many who have been hoping such assistance might keep the roof literally over their head.

Mr Campbell admitted the policy might need review. He said he hoped rental assistance would have been an agreement between the landlord and the tenant – but “we realise that didn’t work out and so we have been processing rental assistance”.

The outcome is a bill of $1.2m for the government – but it won’t help many tenants for long.

This money will only bail out some of the amount owed for many residents – so the question is what comes next?

Admitting the policy might need reviewed won’t pay next month’s rent, or the month after. In short, time to work out what to do, and do so in a hurry. We don’t want to see people finding no shelter over Christmas.