$500-m for Falmouth
Tourism ministry to provide vending space, entertainment facilitites
FALMOUTH, Trelawny — In response to grumbles about the perceived lack of spin-offs for Trelawny locals from the US$ multi-million cruise ship pier, the Ministry of Tourism will be spending more than $500 million to establish a complex at the Hampden Wharf which adjoins the pier.
The planned wharf project is expected to provide vending space for craft vendors and a range of entertainment facilities.
Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill made the announcement Sunday evening during the PNP's North Trelawny Constituency meeting at Falmouth All Age School.
"We want to create an artisan village, a performing arts theatre, we might see if we can get a cinema there, shops, different things. Now, the difference is it will be open to everybody because the truth of the matter is (that) Falmouth needs a place where, as Jamaicans, everybody can go and enjoy yourselves. We can sit down and we can have a good time," Dr McNeill said.
He aded: "But it is open to the pier too, so people (tourists) will just walk off (cruise ships)."
After the meeting, the minister told the Jamaica Observer West that the project is now being designed and it is expected that the work will be put to tender by the fourth quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, Dr McNeill, who cited the need for the historic seaside town to become more attractive, also announced a $162-million beautification project to complement the Hampden Wharf project.
"The first thing that we are going to do is we are going to fix up the drains; we are going to fix up the drains we are going to cover the drains, fix up the place. We are going to widen the sidewalks because people have to be able to walk on it. We are going to fix the roads and we are going to beautify the landscape. We are going to enhance the entire product," McNeill said.
"We are going to start on Harbour Street, Falmouth Street, Pitt Street, Tharpe Street and Market Street," he added.
There was mixed reaction to the announcement of the Hampden Wharf project.
Elisha Cummings, a craft vendor from Salt Marsh in the parish, was sceptical of the proposal.
"We prefer see it before we believe because a pure promise we have been getting for a long time," he said.
But NWC worker Paul Fearon said the project was long overdue.
"The improvement of Falmouth is long time in coming. With the new pier, Falmouth needs more to offer to persons coming off the ship and Trelawny residents need to see some benefits from the pier as well," he reasoned.
For Mayor of Falmouth Garth Wilkinson, who lobbied for the Hampden Wharf project, the announcement couldn't have come sooner.
"I have negotiated long and hard for this and now that it is coming to fruition. I feel satisfied," Wilkinson told the Observer West.
"The citizens of the parish deserve this," he added.
Meanwhile, the tourism minister promised that before the implementation of the Hampden project, there will be consultation with Trelawny residents.
"I want to ensure that the consultation with the people is the most important thing so that we know what must be done and when it is to be done," Dr McNeill stressed.
He, however, warned residents not to harass the cruise passengers.
"When you go to a lot of islands in the Caribbean, the visitors come and they walk off the pier and they walk around the town. So, my problem is why they not getting off the ships in the numbers that they are doing it in other towns across the Caribbean? Why is it that they are not walking across the town?" Dr McNeill questioned.
"There are two reasons in my mind. Number one: we have to fix up the town, but number two: you have a small number of people who create problems there that when they come off you have a problem that they just turn around and go back... We need to understand that it is a serious matter."