Business

Barbican Square go-kart track rejected by KSAC

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2014    

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THE Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) has rejected the controversial proposal to build a $10-million go-kart track and amusement park in Barbican Square.

The KSAC, in a newspaper advertisement on Sunday, announced the refusal of the project, which had received staunch objection from residents of the St Andrew community where the track and entertainment centre would have been erected.

The development would have been constructed at the open lot opposite the Loshusan supermarket and adjacent to the Hi-Lo supermarket, an area that is a fast-rising commercial hub, but notorious for vehicular traffic.

According to the developers, the track would have been initially equipped with approximately 50 go-karts and cater to an estimated 30 patrons daily; later, there would be additional entertainment offerings at the venue.

"A go-kart track in this area we saw as most viable. We can have the entertainment complex, but to get it to be viable you need something like a go-kart track," Wayne Gregory, a representative of the development team, told the Jamaica Observer last year.

"In the later phases we want to look at something like a bowling alley. And if the go-kart track falls off, then maybe the bowling alley will pick up," he added.

The newspaper was unable to reach the developers to comment on the KSAC refusal. And the KSAC up to press time had not responded to a Business Observer query sent yesterday on why the project was disallowed.

But residents had expressed concerns about traffic, parking, the venue's entrance, noise and air pollution, a decrease in the value of their properties, and criminals, should the authorities allow the developers to have their way.

At a meeting with residents last August, the developers received a tongue lashing from the irate community members.

"You are going to destroy our community, and we must do everything in our power to prevent you from destroying our community," a fuming Winston Wallace, an elder of Barbican Avenue, said to applause from other residents.

It was anticipated that the track operations would need approximately 24 staff members to start, and grow to more than 48 workers if "expectations are realised", according to a project brief.

The project brief also noted that there would be no noise nuisance created by karts at the track, as all of the vehicles would be equipped with "state-of-the-art muffler silencers". The track would have been opened from 12 noon until 10:00 pm Monday to Thursday and from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm Fridays to Sundays.

A chain linked fence would have surrounded the karting facility, while the track would have been equipped with a rubber tyre barrier to prevent karts from leaving the racing area, according to the project brief.

The project did not receive the support of the Jamaica Karting Association, the lobby group for kart driving on the island. Although the body admits that the developers' intention to bring the sport to Kingston was good, it expressed concerns about possible disturbance to residents and noted that it is international practice to build tracks in remote areas where there is no noise or traffic.

"We feel that it is the correct decision taken by the KSAC. That area is so packed up with traffic in the mornings and especially in the evenings, can you imagine if you have a distraction like that there and the traffic it would cause?" Neil Williams, vice-president of Jamaica Karting Association, told the Business Observer yesterday.

He added: "We are in support of bringing the sport to Kingston, but at what price?"

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