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Flanker residents hail $20-m social and economic projects in their community

Thursday, December 05, 2019

FLANKER, St James — Flanker residents have welcomed the $20-million projects being established in the inner-city community, pointing out that the initiative would change their lives, both socially and financially.

Clifton Clarke, a resident of the community for almost 50 years, said the entire community stands to benefit.

“I feel good, I am excited, the whole community will benefit,” said Clarke, who has been operating a small dry goods business in the area for several years.

The projects—a football field, a netball court, and a fruits and food court—are being established in close proximity to the Flanker main road overlooking the Sangster International Airport and the newly built Jamaica Defence Force Army Barracks.

They are scheduled for completion by January.

The food and fruits court was opened last weekend, while the netball court will be completed by the middle of this month.

The football field, which is currently being used by residents, is expected to be outfitted with seating and lights to facilitate games at nights within another three weeks.

The project is being funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Member of Parliament for the area Dr Horace Chang and Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the area Senator Charles Sinclair.

Olive McPherson, another resident, said she is elated by the move to build the facilities, noting that it's the first time that a real attempt has been made to change the public image of Flanker.

“What the public knows about Flanker is the anti-social issues, but now those issues are being put behind us and we are feeling the true prosperity breeze sweeping across Flanker. I just want us in Flanker to live together as one and put away the crime and violence,” declared McPherson.

For his part, Vincent Anglin, a Rastafarian chef, who provides ital food and natural juices to customers, said he is prepared to give his 100 per cent support behind the construction and development of the three facilities, noting that they will generate significant economic benefits for youth in Flanker who have a desire to earn an honest living.

Meanwhile, Senator Sinclair has described the multi million-dollar projects as a game changer.

“I have been anticipating these developments for a very long time in Flanker. Infact, these projects are real game changer for the community, which has been stigmatised by crime and violence over the years. What these projects will do, they will give the people in the community, especially young men and women, the opportunity to bond with each other in competitive rivalry on the field rather than being gang rivals,” he argued.

Senator Sinclair noted that in addition to the social aspects, the project will also provide economic benefits with the establishment of the fruits and food court, which he explained will be certified and approved by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), as a rest stop.

“Craft traders will also be allowed to ply their trade at the fruits and food court in order to make this facility a complete one-stop location for visitors and locals alike. I must let you know that there is a gentleman selling ital food and juices here and already his business is heavily patronised by tourists and locals on a daily basis. So, it shows the vast economic benefits that the residents will derive from the projects when they are commissioned into operations,” the government Senator argued.

He warned that the harassment of visitors will not be tolerated at the facility.

“I have expressed it to the residents that there will be a zero tolerance against any form of tourist harassment at the facility,” Senator Sinclair stressed.

“When tourists visit and spend their money it will have a trickle-down effect and impact on the life of every resident. When tourists visit Flanker they must leave with the impression that every resident is their friend, and use that experience to market the community overseas to their friends and neighbours so others will want to come here as well,” said Sinclair.

He added that the football field and netball court will provide opportunities for other communities to come into Flanker and participate in the respective games without any fear of violence.

“We have a raft of programmes that have been unveiled in the community in recent times, such as a mediation resource centre, the Flanker Skills Training Institute…and these are providing skills and educational opportunities for the residents of Flanker. Since the introduction of these programmes, the community has seen a significant drop in crime, especially murder, as most youths are now gainfully employed, while others are being trained for the work world. So with these three new facilities [football field, netball court and fruits and food court] adding to the offering, Flanker is expected to have a new public image,” Senator Sinclair maintained.



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