In 1991-92 Rotary West, under the presidency of Peter Griffith, embarked on the most ambitious project in our history – to transform Batts Rock into a national park.  The Club received permission from the Government to develop approximately 2 acres of land complete with facilities.  The work was to be done in association with the National Conservation Commission (NCC).  Plans were drawn up by our resident architect, Past President (PP) David Senior.   Also, on board were PP Milton Inniss, quantity surveyor, PP Joe Steinbok, construction, Bruce Hill, construction finishes, PP Wally Johnson, Clarence Hill Alkins Kirton and President Elect George Hutson.  

Batts Rock is one of the few remaining coastal woodlands in Barbados, on about 12 acres of prime beach front land on the West Coast, only 3 miles from Bridgetown.   An idyllic location with white sandy beaches, calm Caribbean crystal waters, lush foliage, hundreds of trees with many species of birds in abundance.   But, before the beginning of the Project, it was dark, overgrown with foliage, a foreboding place and a haven for criminal activities.   On weekends PP Peter Griffith marshaled the Rotarians and the NCC who turned out in force, armed with shovels, forks, machetes and weed wackers to debush the area. 

The plan called for the building of a play park with see-saws, swings and slides for the children, benches, a picnic area, parking, washrooms and changing areas.  But, even faced with some seemingly difficult challenges, the provision of electricity and water, these services were finally brought into play, despite a rather lengthy process.   The greatest challenge, however, was a perceptual one; there is a graveyard on the property, where victims of cholera are buried.   Bajans, with their fear of the dead, believed that one could contract cholera simply by walking on the hallowed ground.  Enter our resident undertaker, PP Peter Griffith, who used all his persuasive shills to dispel this foolish notion so we could move forward.  Originally Batts Rock was scheduled for completion in two years, but it took nearly four years and four presidents, at an approximate cost of $400,000 to complete the Project.   

In 1994, Bill Huntley, the President of Rotary International, was in Barbados for a District Conference and he laid the cornerstone for the foundation of one of the buildings.  As previously stated, we are fortunate to be able to call on the ranks of our Rotarians who are professionals in the fields of construction, architecture, quantity surveying, suppliers and law, and we are indebted to them all. PP Dennis Chandler and his wife Eleanor developed a marketing video which was used to demonstrate the collective and focused efforts of Rotary Club of Barbados West. Additionally, we are indebted to the contribution from businesses such as Keith Rayside, who provided his firm’s services to pave the car park and walkways.  The Park was officially opened in January 1997, and handed over to the NCC.   For many years people from all walks of life, tourists and locals, kids of all ages, have benefited from this grandiose undertaking.

Sadly, in 2011 the area fell into a state of disrepair.   The play park was locked and overgrown, trees had been cut down by the developers of a hotel project yet to be restarted and the parking area was blocked by bollards.  Happily, although the area went through a state of disrepair, it is once again a thriving and vibrant area for locals and tourists alike to once again enjoy. RCOBW is pleased to have contributed to the growth of one of the last remaining coastal woodlands, as a monument and lasting gift to the people of Barbados.

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