Western Stars Sports Club, home of Dandy Town and Gorham’s have a new in-principle agreement with the Government to “mutually benefit” all parties, enhance the club’s facilities and benefit the Pembroke West community.

Speaking at a news conference at the club on Wednesday, Public Works Minister Lieutenant Colonel David Burch the unused strip of land owned by government, which is “densely overgrown” will be transformed into a roadway.

“They share adjoining properties – so it makes sense for them to be good neighbours to each other – and I think it’s fair to say they are,” said the Minister.

Gorham’s want access to land to the west of their property to connect the front and back areas of their facility.

“In exchange for which they would provide significant support and upgrades to the field and club operations,” said Col Burch.

“Included in the plans are not just field improvements but a full assessment and likely replacement of the club building.”

He was accompanied by Premier David Burt, MP Michael Weeks, Andrew Mackay General Manager of Gorham’s, Devarr Boyles, President, Wayne Campbell, Vice President and Mrs Shawnette Perott – Secretary of Western Stars Sports Club.

The Minister noted that the “club has been a permanent part of the Pembroke West community for well over 100 years” with Gorham’s alongside as “a part of this community for more than 80 years”.

But he said: “Western Stars have occupied this site since the early 1970’s and have faced several challenges during that time.

“For many years St. Johns Field has been plagued with uneven grounds leading to frequent flooding.

“As a result, the club has experienced many weeks where the field has been unusable for training, community events or recreational activities.”

The clubhouse “is in dire need of refurbishment to assist the club in catering to its ever expanding community programmes”.

Those programmes include “senior, junior and pee wee football and cricket programmes for both boys and girls”.

“I am particularly impressed with the youth football team – who’s newest member is my soon to be 10-year-old god son Kayden,” he added.

“With that background – it was an easy decision for me to make, when Gorham’s first wrote in December 2018 to propose an arrangement that would benefit both their business and Western Stars.

“In order to advance the discussion I asked the Estates Department – within the Ministry – to coordinate meetings between the two parties to discuss how they could work more collaboratively together.”

“Simply stated, Gorham’s want access to an unused, densely overgrown strip of Government owned land to the west of their property for a new roadway to connect the front and back areas of the property. In exchange for which they would provide significant support and upgrades to the field and club operations.”

The announcement confirms “Government’s formal agreement to the concept” and Gorham’s will be provided “with written confirmation” to “engage the Department of Planning and all other relevant statutory bodies to ensure the plan is acceptable”.

“Gorham’s will incur and pay for all the associated surveying, engineering and design costs,” he said.

“At the successful conclusion of that process we will proceed to a formal agreement between the parties and establish a definitive timeline for the commencement and scope of works to be undertaken.

On plans for the “likely replacement of the club building”, he added: “I am sure that Western Stars will be looking to not just this community but the wider Bermudian community in their fundraising efforts to make this a first class facility.

“To say that we are delighted with this arrangement would be an understatement – it is a testament to working collaboratively together – in the spirit that Gorham’s are well known for as an outstanding corporate citizen.

“Likewise, Western Stars are well known for their unwavering commitment to the Pembroke West community. It’s been a long journey to this point but I anticipate progress will now proceed apace and we shall soon see work begin on both projects. The full resources of the Ministry of Public Works will be brought to bear in support of this effort.

“Similar to this Governments commitment to work with sporting Clubs by converting field rental fees to a peppercorn rent – we are equally committed to partnering with the private sector in support of them as well. I am convinced that this arrangement will reap benefits for Gorham’s and the West Pembroke community and will serve as an example for others to follow.”