Mayor of Port Antonio Benny White said renovation of the Neville Antonio Park will help to significantly reduce traffic congestion in the town square and earn much-needed revenue for the Portland Parish Council.
The renovation of the park is being funded through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) at a cost of $8.9 million.
In expressing thanks to the TEF for the financial assistance, Mayor White underscored that the park will be greatly improved with the construction of new restroom facilities and a refurbished stage, which is expected to be well utilised by residents, corporate groups and church organisations.
"Over the years the Neville Antonio Park has become rundown and looked disgraceful so we sought some funds to build two bathroom facilities, a changing room and a stage," White explained.
The mayor noted that the restoration of the park will provide an alternative venue, thereby reducing the need to host major events in the town square.
"We are going to encourage persons to use the park for entertainment. We do not like when persons use the town square because the town is already congested," he said.
The new facilities, he said, are expected to bring the parish council some revenue as the park will be rented to the various groups for the hosting of events.
Minister of Tourism Dr Wykeham McNeill expressed satisfaction that the facility has now come in for some attention.
The minister said he is pleased to see that the work continues to progress and that members of civil society in Port Antonio support the initiative.
"We are restoring the Neville Antonio Park so that it can be used to stage live entertainment and cultural performances, which will enhance Portland's tourism product and benefit both locals and visitors alike," he said.
Executive Director of the TEF Clyde Harrison said the project is in keeping with the fund's mandate to provide money for initiatives that contribute to the enhancement of tourist resort areas.
"We are very pleased to be able to assist the parish council in restoring this important facility," he said.