Queens Hall on August 13 when a notice was served by a Marshall of the High Court.”The landlord has been trying to evict us for 15 years. We offered to buy out the property years ago but he refused,” said Dennis Phillip, director of birdsong. “He’s a very large land owner and claims special attachment to this particular spot because this is the first property of his parents, allegedly.”
Having been aware of the risks for some time, the organization has already found another property on which to build a new facility. Although a down payment has been placed and line of credit acquired, construction of the new facilities would take around two years, according to Phillip. The organization will also be holding a press conference on Monday, August 8th, to help bring notice to the situation and possibly bring an end to the eviction.
“We’ve been seeking the complete purchase of another site about a block south of where we are. There have been bureaucratic delays. We’ve since sought an extension from court. It requires a third party signature to get an extension. But they took that off the table,” Phillip said. “The goal of press conference is to get officials moving and also to support the directions we want to go in. There are no established mechanisms on what to do. Secondly, we hope to get some time with the landlord to persuade him to let us stay for a limited period to complete construction on the new site.”
The organization hopes to engage a government agency, possibly the Ministry of National Security, to help extend its time on the current lot, which it has occupied for 28 years. Phillip believes that the agency has interest in seeing birdsong’s operations remain uninterrupted considering the purpose of the educational program.
“Our program is an important initiative to help lower crime. Rather than put money in prisons, police and army, put it into programs like ours,” Phillip said. “Steelband is born out of this kind of struggle. When we were based on campus in the 1980s we faced a similar struggle. You face that struggle more than once in your life. The people here are ready to fight every step of the way and they are up for the fight.”