Blue Hole boost

US$1.5-m rehabilitation for nature park in St James

Observer West reporter

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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MONTPELIER, St James — Member of Parliament for St James Southern Derrick Kellier says talks are far advanced with investors who are to partner with the South St James Trust to redevelop the Blue Hole Nature Park in the parish at a cost of US$1.5million, in time for Christmas.

Additionally, he disclosed that the investors have also applied for a licence to cultivate medical marijuana on a section of the property.

Operations at the nature park, which sits on roughly 50 of the 1,200-acre property in the Blue Hole community, were halted about three years ago, after the property fell into disrepair following the passage of a hurricane and vandalism.

The park, which offered employment to 40 people, was a major tourist attraction, boasting water parks — which featured freshwater swimming pools — bird aviaries, rabbits, peacocks, over 500 coconut trees, 2,000 hardwood trees, walking trails through the forest, among other features. It was also a popular picnic location for locals.

Most crucially, the area serves as a watershed for the Great River and a well in Montpelier, which supplies the surrounding communities with water.

“We intend to have the project re-launched before the end of this year. It is an environmental project where we have to protect the watershed as a part of our mandate for the lease of the property from the Commissioner of Lands. And we will be utilising it to continue to plant trees,” Kellier told the Jamaica Observer West.

He stressed that the rehabilitation of the road from Blue Hole to Mafoota by the National Works Agency (NWA) is a welcomed stimulus for the much- anticipated return of activities at the nature park.

He expressed his gratitude to Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for works, Everald Warmington, for making the approximately $40 million road rehabilitation exercise a reality, following his representation.

“We are far way down the wicket. We want to thank the NWA for coming to our rescue so to speak, and special mention to Minister Warmington because he has tried his best to help us. During this new budget I expect the road to be completed to the other end so that it can be accessed from the Mafoota end,” said the veteran People's National Party's member of parliament.

“Based on my recommendations to the minister who is in charge of roads, Minister Everald Warmington, he has granted some funds from the ministry to work on the road to bring it back to driveable conditions for the residents. So far, we have completed one phase at a cost of approximately $20million and we are on phase two now, which is roughly about the same amount of money. Overall we are close to $40million in terms of expenditure to do the rehabilitation work on the road.”

Kellier argued that the proximity to the Montego Bay cruise shipping pier augurs well for the success of the nature park facility upon completion of the rehabilitation exercise.

“It's the nearest nature park to the pier in Montego Bay. And bearing in mind that a bypass road will be built for Long Hill shortly, it will help the movement from the pier to here [Blue Hole]. So it is on our development plan to ensure that we make the linkages that will make the park a success,” he said.

Dennis Wanliss, secretary of the St James Social and Economic Development Trust, which is spearheading the initiative, noted that the project will generate much-needed foreign exchange for the economy.

He argued that the Blue Hole project, which is of “historical significance”, will provide employment for members of the neighbouring communities, which once relied heavily on the train service and banana---- two industries which “have died”.

“It is a welcomed project that will create a viable option for employment,” Wanliss stressed.

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