Regional

Multimillion-dollar beach upgrade underway at Burwood

‘The place has been an eyesore’

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 27, 2014    

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — AFTER many years of waiting and several announcements, work has finally started to rehabilitate the Trelawny Parish Council-owned Burwood Beach in the parish which has long been in a state of disrepair.

Yesterday, Chairman of the Trelawny Parish Council and Mayor of Falmouth Garth Wilkinson described the multimillion-dollar project as "a dream come true and a victory for the people of Trelawny".

"Our aim is for us to have a world- class beach facility for the people of Trelawny, which is the most important thing to me right now. It (rehabilitation) is really a dream come true because it has been a long fight, a long struggle for us to have a beach that we can actually call our own. For years this parish council has utilised the beach and what we really needed to do was to turn it into a world-class facility where the people of the parish will be able to use it with pride," explained the mayor.

Wilkinson, who has been the elected councillor for the Falmouth Division (PNP) since 2003, was elevated to the post of chairman of the Trelawny Parish Council following the 2012 local government polls which saw the ruling PNP gaining control of that local authority after two successive terms under the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Wilkinson yesterday recalled that the previous administration wanted to put the beach in the hands of private investors, but at that time he was resolute that the facility must remain under the control of the council.

"I remember, too, that my colleague (PNP) councillor and myself used to fight and struggle that we would not sit by idly and allow the beach to go over into private hands," Wilkinson emphasised.

The mayor also disclosed that a recent row over the ownership of the facility with a group of businessmen has also been laid to rest.

The group had claimed that they were the legitimate owners of the facility, but after discussions with them and the council, they conceded that the local authority was in fact the owner of the beach, Wilkinson told the Jamaica Observer West.

Meanwhile, Wilkinson said the massive upgrading project, which could cost roughly $30 million, will involve the construction of shops, sanitary conveniences, a multi-purpose court, a gazebo, restaurants, a children's play area, a bandstand and the erection of perimeter fencing.

Phase one of the project, which is being done at a cost of $7.5 million and is being funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), he said, should be completed within another three weeks.

He added that the council is soon to negotiate with owners of lands adjoining the property in a bid to add a slew of other attractions and to expand the parking facilities in the vicinity of the beach.

There have long been calls for the rehabilitation of the Burwood Beach, which boasts pristine white sand and is ideal for non-swimmers and persons who are desirous of learning to swim.

Stressing that it was under his watch that representation was made to the tourism and entertainment ministry for the requisite funding to rehabilitate the beach, Wilkinson said the council intends to put in place a management committee to oversee the operations of the facility, once complete.

He expressed confidence that the new-look Burwood beach would attract tourists and locals alike, stressing that the council will retain its policy of charging no entrance fee to access the facility.

Meanwhile, residents of Trelawny have welcomed the rehabilitation of the facility, arguing that it is "well overdue".

"I am happy that work has finally started at Burwood. The place has been in a poor state for many, many years and has been an eyesore, so we are really looking forward to the upgrade of the facility," said Michael 'Briggy' Williams, a Trelawny resident, adding that he is happy, too, that the beach will remain under the control of the Trelawny Parish Council.

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