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Manning pleased as big opening day draws near

Prime Minister Patrick Manning has expressed his satisfaction with the Summit Village, which was officially opened to the public Monday.

Located in the park of the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre, the village is geared towards encouraging delegates and media to lounge, shop and be entertained by some of the country's foremost artistes during the Fifth Summit of the Americas.

Manning, who took time off from his busy schedule to visit the venue yesterday, was accompanied by his wife, Local Government Minister Hazel Manning, his son, Brian Manning, and Health Minister Jerry Narace.

As the sweet sounds of parang music, sung by Los Alumnos de UWI, filled the air, the entourage visited several of the artisan booths and greeted members of the public, who frequently asked the Prime Minister to take photographs with them.

The group was able to take in some of the entertainment and the Prime Minister was even seen dancing to some of the parang tunes.

"Let me tell you-I never had any problem with the Village, you know," Manning told the Express during the visit.

"I was not unaware of what was to come. Now that it is open, people are clearly seeing what the vision is all about and this is just the start of it. Imagine this right into Invader's Bay."

The Waterfront, which was officially opened last Wednesday, has already seen scores of citizens visiting its park and sitting along the scenic esplanade, which stretches from the Femmes du Chalet (formerly Breakfast Shed) to the Hyatt Regency hotel.

Government's intention is to eventually expand the esplanade further West as far as Invader's Bay, and further East as far as Sea Lots-which has been earmarked as a site for the relocation of the Port of Port of Spain.

Comparing the village, designed by Brian MacFarlane, to Taste T&T, Manning said: "I have been to Taste T&T before. It is a very good programme, it has worked very well. What is different here of course is the ambience, the atmosphere. We are returning the Waterfront to the people of Port of Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.

"In fact, they haven't had access to this waterfront since the port was built in 1939 or something, since then. It's a long time and therefore many people who are on the Waterfront were not born yet when this waterfront was closed off to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. They have never experienced it."

The Express spoke to several patrons, who expressed the view that the village should be continued after the summit.

When asked about his thoughts on the idea, the Prime Minister said: "Yes, but that is not for me, that is for the people who manage it. I provide the facilities, let the experts do that."

Earlier in the day, Ambassador Luis Rodriguez and Minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne officially opened the village and welcomed visitors.

Browne said there had been a buzz of excitement during the past week, as many visited the park where the village was being constructed.

"We are on target for a very good summit and our organisation and the people of Trinidad and Tobago will shine," he said.

"This village is a continuation of the Brian Lara Promenade. When you look east and see how it is aligned in a sense, it is a natural opening and a continuation of open space, something we need in the city, a thing of beauty."

He used the opportunity to invite other members of public to visit the village. He also, in advance, thanked all the staff who will be working for this week's mega-meeting.

The Summit Village will be open today from noon to 6 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for members of the public. However, from Thursday, the village will be open exclusively for accredited summit delegates and members of the media.

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