Three major parks to be upgraded under the Urban Renewal and Development Programme
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Three major parks are scheduled to undergo significant upgrading at a total cost of $117.5 million, under the Urban Renewal and Development Programme of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC).
They are the JAG Myers Park in Black River, St Elizabeth; the Neville Antonio Park in Port Antonio, Portland, and the Rudolph Elder Park in Morant Bay, St Thomas.
Acting Senior Director in the Urban Renewal and Development Branch, MEGJC, Raymond Poyser, said “$34.2 million will be allocated to upgrade the Neville Antonio Park in Port Antonio; $13.3 million has been allocated for the JAG Myers Park in Black River, St Elizabeth, and $70 million has been allocated for the Rudolph Elder Park in Morant Bay, St Thomas”.
Poyser advised that the projects are at varying stages of the procurement process and gave the details of the projects.
“Works at the Neville Antonio Park will include the construction of a new boundary wall, as well as a children’s play area. Solar lights will be installed and we will also add park furniture, renovate the restrooms, and undertake beautification and landscaping. A soak-away pit will also be included to alleviate flooding, as Portland has a high water table”, he explained.
Meanwhile, the JAG Myers Park in Black River St Elizabeth will see the construction of a new gazebo, repairs to the roof of the existing gazebo, and the rehabilitation of the water fountain as well as general beautification and landscaping.
Poyser added that “Infrastructure will also be installed, to prevent crocodiles from the Black River from entering the park, thereby protecting both the crocodiles which are an endangered species, and people using the park”.
Over in St Thomas, the Rudolph Elder Park in Morant Bay, which is the largest project, will receive significant upgrading.
“There are plans to improve the park’s functionality in terms of lighting, beautification, and landscaping. There are also plans to put in concession shops to create revenue to maintain the park. Work will include the rehabilitation of the fountain, a multi-purpose court, improvements to the restrooms and parking as well as the renovation of the gazebo”, he explained.
He further stated that a deck will be built to improve ambiance as the park is located next to the sea. In addition, the perimeter fencing and the gate would be renovated, and a children’s play area constructed. To address the possibility of traffic congestion, a turning lane leading into the park will also be constructed off the main road.
“The upgrading of the parks coincides with other major developments being undertaken by the government, in particular, the Morant Bay Urban Centre, and the Boundbrook Industrial Estate in Port Antonio, Portland. It is important that these infrastructure works take place because it is about complementing the work, so it is a coordinated effort”, he said.
Poyser noted that the upgrading of the three parks is part of the Government’s thrust to create recreational spaces in urban centres, to improve the psychological, social, and physical benefits to residents.
“The parks will create vibrant, family-friendly spaces which will substantially enhance the quality of life for the residents. Green spaces are essential not just for their aesthetic value but also for temperature control, to mitigate the ‘Urban Heat Island Effect’ created by too many buildings and infrastructure”, he stated.
Poyser said the government would seek to source labour from within the parishes for the park upgrading projects.