Columbus Park - Discovery Bay’s new ‘hot spot’

Columbus Park - Discovery Bay’s new ‘hot spot’

BY ALESIA EDWARDS Observer staff reporter

Monday, June 11, 2012

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DISCOVERY BAY, St Ann — Columbus Park, the historic open-air museum that sits by the side of the road in this north coast town, and which has been home to many relics from the Spanish colonial period, is soon to become a major heritage tourism attraction.

There are plans to transform the park, which has over the years been a regular destination for school outings, into a model heritage park where visitors can enjoy more than the viewing of artefacts.

Walter Elmore, managing director of Columbus Park Jamaica Limited which operates the facility, explained to the Jamaica Observer North East during a recent interview that some aspects of the development plan, which includes setting up a restaurant and bar, are already in place. Scotchie's and Walter's Bar, with their breathtaking ocean view, have become the new 'hot spot' in the usually quiet, 'pass-through' town.

The business has not yet been officially opened, nor has it done any advertising, but ever since it hosted a lyme over the Easter weekend, the place has been buzzing.

"Columbus Park has been here for a long time, but it was just the artefacts and without any real facilities, so a group of us took a look at it and we thought 'what is Jamaica all about?' 'Who are we?'" Elmore said.

"If I go to an island like this, I expect to see something like things where people, not only Jamaicans, but the tourists, can come and intermingle with each other, get to meet each other because unfortunately we don't have much of that anymore," he said.

He explained that the decision to add Scotchie's — famous for its jerk chicken and pork, roast breadfruit and yam — and Walter's Bar was to create an attraction which would offer more than just a tour of the park to visitors.

"We want to create the perfect environment for people to intermingle so the basic idea is to start with something that is relaxing, moderately priced, good food, good service, and then as we expand we will add different things as we go along," said Elmore.

It was also done, he revealed, to add value to the social life and economy of the people in Discovery Bay and adjoining areas. In the near future, the expansion and development of the historic site will include a gift shop which will offer a variety of authentic locally made gift items and souvenirs. And as time progresses, the historic park will be refurbished and upgraded. Other artefacts, which are important to our historic journey, will also be added to the existing collection.

"A lot of our people don't know our history; they don't know the history that we have with Scotland. A lot of people don't know that the Jamaican flag is actually the Scottish flag with different colours," Elmore said.

"There's so much that we can learn and it's kind of fun, and it's that kind of direction I want; relaxing, a fun place to come to where you can learn a little bit about us and who we are. We are very nice people and people need to know that," he added.

Elmore hopes that the investment which is being made in the community will not only enhance the area, but boost its economy and empower residents from surrounding communities. Already, 26 people have gained employment and general manager of Columbus Park Jamaica Limited Patriese Spence said the park was a licensed attraction and that with the planned development, close to 100 persons will be employed in various positions, even as tour guides.

"As we go along and come up with ideas and get ideas from our customers, we will play it by air and see what happens," Elmore added. "I want this place to look like it's been here a hundred years; I don't want it to look like anything new. It should be laid-back, simple, everything should be neutral colours. When you come here you don't want to leave."

The facility is also expected to boost nightlife and entertainment in the community as there are also plans to host regular talent and jazz concerts.

Meanwhile, Spence explained that the business has already developed a relationship with the community, as in addition to providing employment, local businesses such as wholesales and local suppliers are also benefitting.

"Discovery Bay can only benefit positively from what we are doing here and the development is a source of employment. It can only enhance anything that Discovery Bay has to offer. We buy from the local suppliers here, we support the wholesales here, so it can only benefit," she said.


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