MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Through an initiative spearheaded by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, refurbished barracks, a newly built recreation area and a motorbike were Friday handed over to the Mandeville Police Station.
The original partitions at the barracks, according to the project overview, were completely demolished and reconstructed to have four barrack rooms.
Elsa Smith, deputy superintendent of police (DSP) in charge of administration in the Manchester Division, said that the entire facility received a facelift which included painting of the interior and exterior walls and the replacement of some bathroom fixtures.
"It is said that the only thing that remains constant is change; and although the refurbishing of the barrack facility has been some time coming we definitely knew the change had to come. This improvement has enabled us to be better able to accommodate our probationers coming directly from training school, as well as members of staff who live a far distance out of the parish," she said.
From a "shanty town setting", DSP Smith said, the barracks were transformed to a "relatively decent" facility.
Commander for Area 3 — which covers Manchester, Clarendon, and St Elizabeth — Derrick Knight said that it was "heart-rending" to hear the complaints and see the condition in which the men and women who use the barracks were living.
He said that it "speaks volume" that the sponsors pulled the resources together despite the challenging economic climate.
Minister of national security and Central Manchester member of parliament Peter Bunting noted that many of the island's police stations and lock-ups over the years have suffered from underinvestment and recurring periods of fiscal tightening.
He commended the Manchester Chamber of Commerce for spearheading the initiative for the donation of a bike to the police by automotive company Kingston Industrial Garage. Bunting also hailed all stakeholders for their role in the refurbishing and construction work at the station.
"...These contributions... signal a recognition on the part of the Chamber of Commerce, its members, other wider stakeholders that they, too, have a part to play in making our communities safe and secure," said Bunting, who as MP, also made a contribution to the construction project.
Manchester Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Freckleton said that the refurbished barracks and the building of the recreation area cost close to $1 million.
Alumina processors Alpart, whose mining and refining operations have been stalled since 2009 because of the global economic recession, and the Alpart Community Council were the leading donors to the construction project with $300,000. Other contributors included Proven Wealth, National Solid Waste Management Authority, Ricam Construction, Mandeville Hotel, Stewarts Hardware, Berger Paints, Big Ben Cambio, Advantage General Insurance Company, Central Dealer, Power Services Company Limited, and ICWI.
Superintendent Marlon Nesbeth, head of the Manchester Police Division, said he was determined to improve the sense of security in Manchester as part of the drive to build confidence among the investment and business community.
Smith said that the refurbishing of the barracks remains a work in progress as there is still some "critical" work left to be done.
Freckleton said that some furnishings, including gym equipment, would also be suitable for the recreation area.