University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science Previous Contents Next

13 Changing

The interviews of Roseauans gathered for this study clearly show that Roseau currently faces two kinds of problems. First, there is the problem of underdevelopment, and secondly, the problem of congestion. The first is exemplified by squatter districts, wrecked roads, public spaces in dilapidated condition, and other kinds of features that do not meet the standards that people expect. The congestion, however, is at least partly created by development. Streets in Roseau are narrow and certainly not planned to handle all that vehicle traffic which is currently pouring into the city (Fig. 60). On the other hand, rising expectations in the standard of housing make small wooden houses look inadequate in comparison to large concrete structures of Upper Goodwill and St. Aromant.

Roseau and the Roseauans are thus in a conflicting situation. On one side, the question is how to create development, and on the other side it is how to equip the city so that it can bear the effects of it. Most of the proposals that deal with either side of the problem seem to connect--either explicitly or implicitly--to a plan to create a peripheral link around Central Roseau.

The idea of Botanical Gardens--Roseau Link was born in the early 1990s. Due to the congestion in Central Roseau, the Botanical Gardens on the fringes of the district had been subject for several encroachement by school buildings, governmental offices, and things like that. To prevent further encroachments, Dominica Conservation Association (DCA) started a project to protect the Gardens. However, as the Botanical Gardens cover almost one third of the Central district, it was deemed impossible to develop the Gardens without taking the whole city into consideration.

Botanical Gardens--Roseau Link will be a peripheral link that encircles Central Roseau from the Botanical Gardens via Riverside to the Bay Front, and from there via Newtown Savannah back to the Gardens (Fig. 61). Some 700,000 euros are granted by the European Union to develop the link as a tourist project. The idea is to preserve the nature of Dominica by keeping the cruise ship tourists in the city.

Several development sites are situated along the link, and it seems that most development in Roseau is now happening on the fringes of the Central District. Some of those development plans are already finished, for example the renovation of the Bay Front. However, as the government of Dominica is always lacking money, the construction was partly financed by a privately-owned Dominica National Trust. The Trust was granted a lease on the Bay Front till year 2005. Several disputes have aroused between the Trust and vendors that sell souvenirs on the sidewalk. The vendors have license to vend only at John's Lane and Love Lane but due to congestion and better vending sites many of them are performing their business on the Bay Front (Matthew & St. Louis 1999).

The Botanical Gardens, too, will be subject of further development. As Shillingford says, it is now more like a arboretum than a real botanical garden. In DCA's plan, the grounds of the Agricultural Experiment Station would be developed into a display garden, and a small pool and an ornamental section would be constructed, too. The plan includes also a new parking area inside the gardens. Mayor Williams (1999) calls for more extensive use of the water element, and proposes an artificial waterfall. She says, 'You bring the waterfall down to the Gardens for some people may not be able to go as far they [currently] are.'

The Botanical Gardens are framed by a stone wall. On the NE side, congested Valley Road passes by the wall. To widen the road one would have to demolish the wall, as suggested by the Dominican Government (see e.g. Road works... 2000). The DCA strongly opposes these plans. One governmental proposal has been to contract a roundabout to the crossroads at Bath Estate Bridge, in the northern corner of the Gardens. The DCA has proposed relignement of Valley Road some metres northwards which would save the wall. Another proposal of the DCA is to remove pedestrians from Valley Road and build a pedestrian alley inside the wall.

One purpose of the peripheral link is to expand the Botanical Gardens to encircle the whole Central Roseau. Link will be lined with trees which will be interpretative like those in the Gardens itself. Model for this comes from Monaco where, according to Shillingford, every garden is part of the botanical gardens.

From the Botanical Gardens the link continues to the Roseau River. Both Shillingford and Green (1999) remind that Roseau is the only capital in the Caribbean which has a biologically live river flowing through it. This fact has led them to call for a thorough face-lift for the area on the side of the river.

The link passes by the Festival City and Windsor Park. Windsor Park is the site for a proposed sports stadium (CDNSP s.a.: 47). The present facilities do not meet the international requirements, and therefore Dominica cannot currently host international cricket matches, for instance. However, according to recent plans, cricket will be excluded from the new Windsor Park Stadium that will accommodate football and athletics instead. A national cricket stadium is planned to be built at Macoucherie Estate situated between the villages of St. Joseph and Salisbury on the Leeward Coast of Dominica (National Stadium... 2000).

Building of new stadium would, however, increase traffic immensely at the time of sports events. Thus it is probably justifiable to locate the stadium for the country's most popular sport, cricket, elsewhere than in the capital. The lack of parking space, however, will cause chaos in the streets of Roseau if the problem is not solved in some practical manner. The proposal of the DCA is to build parking on the other side of the Roseau River, opposite to the Windsor Park. A pedestrian bridge would be constructed across the river, and it would connect the parking to the peripheral link and Windsor Park Stadium (Shillingford 1999).

South from Windsor Park, the proposed peripheral link includes a construction of new pedestrian alley on the river bank. Construction of the link, however, is linked with development of the whole Riverside district. The face-lift has already begun. The so-called Independence Arch has been constructed on the E.O. Loblack Bridge which is the major entrance to Central Roseau. Next to it is new Independence Square, or Riverside Place, as it is also called. These constructions were prepared for the celebration of Dominica's 21 years of independence in November 1999 (Independence... 1999).

Between the Independence Square and the Market there is currently on open area which serves as a bus station. DCA has proposed that the open space should be widened by constructing a kind of balcony on the side of Roseau River. That would create more space for pedestrians and allow the introduction of trees and other green plants (Shillingford 1999).

There are some other plans for the River Bank, too. Governmental initiative is to build there offices and a large parking structure (Francis 1999; St. John 1999). Green finds such proposals horrifying. The parking structure would span the mouth of Roseau River, and it could easily change the entire look of Roseau.

The parking situation in Central Roseau is out of hands of the local authorities. Streets are full of cars and the lots are generally too small for on-site parking. St. John (1999), the City Clerk, says that virtually every empty lot in the central district is now seen as a potential site for parking development. However, the basic problem is that there are just too many vehicles for the streets of Central Roseau. Hence, the development of new parking space seems highly implausible a solution. Development of peripheral parking, such as the one proposed on the Goodwill side of Roseau River, could be a more sustainable alternative. Available parking space in the vicinity would possibly also enhance the development of the Riverside district. If the development is concentrated on the fringes of Central Roseau, in the future people may find it unnecessary to drive their cars Downtown. That would lessen the pressure caused by vehicle traffic in the streets of Roseau.

The problem is not only that people are coming to Central Roseau by their cars. The fact is that virtually only route from the southern parts of Dominica to the north is through Roseau. In a structure plan dating to the 1970s (Dominica 1971), one has proposed another kind of peripheral link. The proposed link would have been a peripheral road from Newtown Savannah to Woodbridge Bay. It would have encroached upon a substantial portion of the Southern part of Botanical Gardens and crossed the Roseau River between Windsor Park and the Festival City--at about the same location where the DCA has proposed a pedestrian bridge (see Fig. 61). The road would have climbed up to Goodwill, passed the Lindo Park, Princess Margaret Hospital and Gutter Village before finally joining the coastal highway at Woodbridge Bay. The peripheral road plan is no longer valid, however (Francis 1999).

The Botanical Gardens--Roseau Link, if implemented, will encircle Central Roseau with a development zone. Perhaps it is for this why the link is extended to Newtown in the south. If it was solely a touristic project, there would be no reason for that. The link connects currently underdeveloped districts such as Riverside and Newtown to each other and to the developed Bay Front.

One aspect of the peripheral link project is that it associates development with the increase of green space. In the former cases where Botanical Gardens were encroached for new development, the idea was opposite. The link would not, however, protect only the Gardens. Another and equally important aspect is that it will support the conservation of the historical district by repositing the most intense pressure of development to the fringes of Central Roseau.

University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science Previous Contents Next