Sandals saves Green Island

Sandals saves Green Island

Resort's foundation spends $13 million on library rehabilitation

Observer West writer

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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Green Island Branch Library, which has been closed for more than eight years due to the dilapidated state of the building, is expected to be reopened soon, thanks to Sandals Foundation which is spending $13 million to rehabilitate the 43-year-old facility.

At the time of its closure, it was one of the biggest catchment areas in the Hanover Parish Library network, serving numerous communities, including Cave Valley, Kendal, Orange Bay, Green Island Rock Spring, and Cousins Cove.

More than a year ago, the Jamaica Observer West highlighted the plight of the residents — mainly students — who had to find alternate means of researching information and undertaking other library-related activities.

The closure of the library, for instance, resulted in students travelling up to 14 miles to use either the Hanover Parish Library in Lucea or the Negril Branch Library in Westmoreland.

Sandals Foundation was moved by the Observer West story.

“The Sandals Foundation was very moved by the news article which highlighted the importance and subsequent need within the Green Island community following the closure of the branch library which provides an invaluable service to its residents. We are very happy to do our part to renovate the facility which provides a range of training and developmental programmes all aimed at improving the lives of residents,” stated Heidi Clarke, the executive director for the foundation.

“The Sandals Foundation strongly believes that reading is a fundamental skill needed to achieve success in any area of life and as such we are always very happy to support programmes and centres where the young and old can meet to build their literacy skills.”

Added Clarke: “The Jamaica Library Service does so much to support literacy in Jamaica and we are very proud to support their efforts as we look at how we can reach every child and every adult to promote reading in our communities.”

Meanwhile, stakeholders in Hanover have commended Sandals Foundation for responding favourably to calls for financial assistance to have the building renovated.

“If you check the records, you will see that I was one of those few people who did not support the closing of that institution, and I had made several attempts to get it on its feet but was not provided with the requisite finances and support,” said chairman of the Hanover library network, and custos of Hanover, Dr David Stair.

“I really commend the Sandals Foundation for coming on board, because we reached out to other entities and it just did not happen.”

Just over a year ago, the acting director general of the Jamaica Library Service (JLS), Maureen Thompson, told the Observer West that over the years several appeals have been made for funding in order to have the building rehabilitated.

“We had actually submitted a proposal under the Sugar Transformation Fund, but we were not successful with that particular location, but we have been successful with other grants for that parish” disclosed Thompson.

She said the aim is not only to rehabilitate the building in Green Island, which is owned by the JLS, but to expand it in an effort to cope with the development of the community over the years.

Work started on the building last year and is expected to be completed by the first week of next month. The foundation has expressed the hope of having the building reopened in that same month.

However, regional director of the Jamaica Library Service, Marvetta Stewart Richards, who also commended Sandals Foundation for its outstanding work, is not optimistic about February's opening date.

“That looks like it will have to be pushed back, because there is a lot more to be done. So, I don't think that a February deadline would make sense. So, I will have to see what I can do because we need external help to get equipment, furnishing and everything. What is there now is the structure. So, we will have to push back that date. We are hoping for a February date, but that is not going to work,” stated Stewart Richards, who noted that it will take some time to source the books and get the equipment and everything on board.

The equipment, she said, includes computers, books, tables, chairs, fans, and air-conditioning units.

In this regard, she said the public's support is again needed.

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