Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
GEORGE ALLEYNE Wednesday, March 2 2011
Since the Port-of-Spain City Corporation has signalled that it was taking steps to have Petrotrin Phase Two, one of the nation’s leading steel orchestras, removed from its present site off in Lower Woodbrook, the question must be asked: “What became of the 99-year lease agreement signed circa 1971 between Phase Two and the Corporation?
The agreement which was signed by Peter Aleong, then Manager of the band, and Public Relations Officer, Selwyn Taradath, on behalf of Phase Two, gave Phase Two the legal right to occupy the site for 99 years, and the specific authority to develop it and build on it.
A lease, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Law, is “A contract under which an owner of property (the landlord or lessor) grants another person (the tenant or lessee) the exclusive possession of the property for an agreed upon period, (but not necessarily) in return for rent and sometimes for a capital sum known as a premium....A lease must be for a definite period, which may be a fixed term or by way of a periodic tenancy.”
The Oxford Dictionary of Law, one of the most authoritative reference works of its kind, would go on to say in part: “In the case of the tenant the implied covenants are (1) to pay the rent; (2) to pay all ordinary rates and taxes....” This Column understands that Phase Two complied with these requirements.
Of interest is that the Port-of-Spain City Corporation actually assisted the management of Phase Two in the grading of the land. In addition, the Government of the day helped to pave the area. Phase Two’s management and band members, helped by friends and benefactors, toiled long and hard, day and night, including weekends, to clear the land, some two to three lots, dominated by clusters of bamboo, from which it would earn its then nickname, Bamboo Patch. Phase Two would begin rehearsals there even before the leased area was fully cleared and would even use bamboo stalks as improvised racks.
Developing the area was difficult and would, undoubtedly, have deterred many another group, but Phase Two officials, members, friends and well wishers were determined to soldier on.
The steel orchestra which today stands poised to win this year’s Panorama competition and become Trinidad and Tobago’s and the world’s number one steel orchestra, had introduced a wholly new system of sponsorship which would arouse national interest and in the process gain required financial support at the time.
It was the first steel orchestra in which each of the band’s stands or sections when Phase Two took part in the Panorama competitions had a different sponsor. A leading advertising agency, referred to as the Ideas Company, assisted Phase Two through the innovative early years and beyond in obtaining sponsors. For many years now, however, the State owned oil company, the Petroleum Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Petrotin) has been Phase Two’s sole sponsor. The sponsorship by the energy major of one of Trinidad and Tobago’s steelband majors has proven an excellent combination.
But all these things apart, why has the Port-of-Spain City Corporation gone public, dramatically, with its intent on having Phase Two vacate the old “Bamboo Patch”? Admittedly, the argument has been for Petrotrin Phase Two to give way to the multi-storied apartment complex known as One Woodbrook Place, which was erected by Home Construction Limited (HCL), a member of the CL Financial Group of Companies. How long has the City Corporation or City Council, as it was once known, been moving to have Phase Two vacate the leased area and can a compromise not be arrived at?
Is there not room for One Woodbrook Place and Petrotrin Phase Two? It is doubly ironical that Phase Two as it stands on the threshold of another time around of being Trinidad and Tobago’s numero uno steel orchestra, this time with the beautifully crafted and pointed tune, “Do Something For Pan”, that its work and what its tune stands for should be almost casually shunted aside.
Can a compromise not be worked out which would protect the interests of both and, incidentally, the interests of pan lovers? Will the City Fathers, whose Corporation once helped Phase Two to grade the land now help the orchestra to retain its occupancy of the now fabled “Bamboo Patch”? There was a time when because of the quality of music provided and the nurturing of indigenous culture, not unlike that of New York’s world famous Greenwich Village, Phase Two’s plot of earth was nicknamed The Village. Must all of this be dismissed and forgotten as Phase Two’s 99-year lease appears to have been?
I say from Bamboo Patch to Phase Two!!!!!!! Not from Bamboo Patch to a Concrete Jungle? Big UP We Culture!!!