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.