TWO representatives of developers who want to build a $10-million go-kart track in Barbican Square, St Andrew, received a tongue-lashing when they met with residents Monday night to discuss the plan.
Wayne Gregory and PT Murdoch appeared defensive, embarrassed, and even frustrated throughout the meeting at Liguanea Preparatory School as the group of residents criticised almost every detail of their proposal.
In the end, the residents' consensus was that a go-kart track "cannot be erected in that area, and we will fight the idea to the end".
"This is a joke. Only sick and dangerous persons would have come up with something like that. You don't find this in the rest of the world," said a fuming Winston Wallace, an elderly resident of Barbican Avenue. "Where are the ones who should be dealing with this? This matter should be raised in Parliament the minute it was conceived.
"You are going to destroy our community, and we must do everything in our power to prevent you from destroying our community," he said to applause from other residents.
According to Gregory, the developers want to build the track and entertainment centre in an open lot opposite the Loshusan supermarket and adjacent to the Hi-Lo supermarket. In its first months it would be 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," he insisted when questioned by the Jamaica Observer after the meeting.
"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 said, looking deflated as he packed his documents.
Earlier, the residents 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.
"No, no, no, irrevocably no. It is a crazy idea and we are opposed to it. The idea is inappropriate and we ask them to reconsider," said Diana McCaulay, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust and a resident of the area.
"The area will be degraded, our property values will be decreased, and there will be an increase in pedlars, prostitutes and thieves," added a man who said he spoke on behalf of the Barbican Baptist Church.
"What is the source of the money? A project for $10 million at 30 people a day can never be viable," another male resident shouted, while another man said Gregory and Murdoch were not adequately prepared to address the residents' concerns.
Richard Sirgany, an executive member of the Jamaica Karting Association and a resident of the Millsborough area, said that while he supports the construction of another go-kart track in Jamaica, Barbican Square is unfit for it.
"Anywhere you go in the United States, and all over, you will see that the tracks are nowhere near people's houses. These tracks are mostly built in cornfields, in big open spaces where there is no noise and no traffic. It is a great idea, but wrong place," he said.