The ARC accused of selling state land which is vested in the BLB… NO PERMISSION FROM COMMISSIONER OF STATE LANDS

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There are a number of obstacles the Arima Race Club (ARC) will have to over­come to sell the 3.58 acres of the leased land situated on the eastern side of San­ta Rosa Park, Arima.

The parcel of land is situated between Food Bas­ket and the 1350 metres chute. The property, which is state-owned, is vested in the Betting Levy Board (BLB).
The ARC had invited bids from interested par­ties in a full-page adver­tisement in the Club’s race day programme (Saturday, December 7, 2019) for the purchase of the land, which bid closed on December 14, 2019.
There are reports that there was only one inter­ested buyer when the bids were closed.
According to one re­port when BLB chairman Linford Carrabon saw the advertisement he inquired from the ARC about the sale without informing the BLB since the State has put it in the hands of the Board.
Trade and Industry Min­ister Paula Gopee-Scoon called a meeting with the ARC, the BLB and the Trinidad and Tobago Rac­ing Authority (TTRA) two weeks ago to discuss the legal issues and ownership of the land.
The meeting, which was held at the Minister’s office in Port of Spain was attend­ed by two representatives of the BLB- John O’Brien and Carrabon, ARC President Robert Bernard and Vice President Jerry Narace, and TTRA representative Rich­ard Freeman.
According to reports the meeting turned out to be heated, causing the Min­ister to intervene and ask both Carrabon and Narace to cool down.
It is reported that row was centred on several is­sues, including the sale of the land without consult­ing the BLB and the change over to the BLB.
A source said that Narace had to apologize to the Min­ister over his behaviour.
The ARC was preparing to sell the land which is valued just over $6million but it has to get permission from the Commissioner of State Lands. The land has a 99year-lease.
The ARC had promised that it would get all the necessary approvals from Town and Country Plan­ning (which it has already gotten) and the Arima Bor­ough Corporation before it sells the property.
A racing official said there is one issue where First Citizens is holding the land as collateral for around $1million which has to be cleared before the sale is made.
It is alleged that Food Basket has gone beyond its boundary and is encroach­ing on the land.