BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
MONTEGO BAY, St James - THE St James Parish Council has undertaken a massive clean-up and beautification programme in Montego Bay, as the local authority moves to improve the aesthetics of the resort city.
Estimated to cost more than $18 million, the initiative includes the fencing of the historic Montego Bay Civic Centre; the cleaning of drains; the painting of sidewalks and the planting of ornamental plants.
"What we really want to do in the town is to lift the spirits and minds of the people and to make them take pride in it," Mayor of Montego Bay Glendon Harris told the Observer West on Tuesday.
Harris, a veteran councillor, who became Montego Bay's 15th mayor in March, said in his inaugural speech that priority attention would be given to the aesthetics of the resort city during his tenure in office.
He said on Tuesday that already several roadways, including the Howard Cooke Boulevard, Alice Eldemire Drive and St James Street have been washed and painted, while others will be done in a matter of days. That aspect of the work, he said, is expected to cost roughly $1.8 million.
The works being undertaken at the Civic Centre is estimated to cost $5.4 million, while a budget of $8.5 million has been set for the cleaning of several drains across the tourist capital. The scope of the work in the city also includes the refurbishing of the Barnett Street clock tower.
The multi-million-dollar programme is being undertaken in the wake of calls by the Montego Bay business community for Mayor Harris to establish a Downtown Renewal Committee, in an effort to address "the degradation" of that section of the resort city.
"The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) is willing to forge a partnership with the city's political and civic leaders to launch the renewal committee, with a view to improve the aesthetics of Montego Bay, including the regulation of parking and vending, and we are seeking a meeting with the mayor to set up the committee," said MBCCI president.
He said the chamber is proposing that the Downtown Renewal Committee should constitute architects, landscapers and city officials to "chart a course forward" for the tourist capital.
He explained that with Jamaica celebrating 50 years of political independence, the proposed renewal committee should focus on a redesign of the city centre, setting the stage for what it should look like in the next 50 years.
"The reality is that if we want our fair share of the pie we have to put our house in order first, and so we must find creative ways of sustaining a clean and orderly city," he told the Observer West.
—Horace Hines contributed to the story.