Mandeville mayor wants mined-out lands reclaimed to facilitate town’s expansion
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell is calling on the Government to reclaim mined-out lands to facilitate the expansion of Mandeville.
“Greater Mandeville starts at the Williamsfield roundabout, so when you look in that area there are lands on both sides of the road that belong to Windalco. Take back those,” he said.
Mitchell told the Jamaica Observer that the south-central town, which is now bursting at the seams, needs more land space for commercial activities.
“We need land for some space. People need to invest and once you do that we can spread out. We don’t have much parking space in the town,” he said on Tuesday.
Mitchell believes Mandeville can become attractive to more investors once commercial space is available and the long-standing issue of water supply is remedied.
“The commercial belt of Mandeville stops on Ward Avenue and with the new traffic changes now, we may have to look at additional space for commercial places,” he said.
As part of the near $75-million Greater Mandeville Traffic Management System, Caledonia Road now functions on a one-way system from the direction of Scotiabank to the New Green Road intersection.
The section of Manchester Road between Scotiabank and Sinclair’s Bargain Centre has also been converted into a one-way stretch.
Other changes through the Mandeville Traffic Management Improvement Plan is the opening of the median along Main Street to allow traffic from North Race Course Road and at Villa Road.
However, Mitchell said the well-needed expansion of Mandeville is essential to alleviating congestion.
He said the Manchester Municipal Corporation is awaiting the approval of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to extend the commercial zone for Mandeville beyond Ward Avenue.
“We have to go as far as Winston Jones Highway, even Wesley Road further back. We had thought of New Green Road with one lot in meaning the first lot at the front. We were thinking of going as far as to Hatfield,” said Mitchell.
He is proposing that there be a “mix use” of lands for commercial and residential properties.”People must be able to live and work in the same place or in the same space, that is how you will have a vibrant community…It is just for NEPA to revisit and sign off,” said Mitchell.
“Whether there is a challenge or not the town has to be expanded, because when Mandeville was founded 200 and odd years ago, it was the same roads we have here. They have not widened. There are no new roads, so you have to expand and add additional places to it. You don’t have any parking within the town, so you have to go wider now to start getting parking,” he added.
He is proposing that wells which were used to supply water to the now-mothballed Windalco/Kirkvine bauxite/alumina plant be tapped into to help alleviate Manchester’s water crisis.
“There are a number of wells in Porus, if the Government, by forced acquisition, simply takes over the wells, Manchester cannot be out of water,” Mitchell said.
Mandeville and surrounding communities have struggled with water shortage for decades, with town elders insisting over a period of many years that the problem has hindered growth.
Many households in Manchester and the wider south-central Jamaica have had to rely on rainwater harvesting.
The long-standing issue of water supply has not only affected households, but commerce, with businesses suffering from the inconsistency in the supply of the precious commodity.
The Pepper well field, downslope at low altitude in St Elizabeth, is the main source of water for Mandeville, which is more than 2,000 feet above sea level, atop the Manchester Plateau. The Greater Mandeville Water Supply project is expected to address the water crisis.
Mitchell reiterated his desire for the use of land at Kingsland, a few miles west of Mandeville.
“We have that 40 acres of land still out by Kingsland, which it has to be developed and that is where I want investors to come in and we use the land as equity and they develop otherwise,” he said.
Mitchell is also still against the proposed location of a new Mandeville courthouse on Brumalia Road amid concerns that the area should remain reserved as a green space. He is suggesting that the new courthouse and fire station be built on Ward Avenue.”If you move the courthouse down to Ward Avenue down by Brooks Park end there that is where the fire station [is to go]. They [fire brigade] have two acres down there. Therefore, it would be easier for the fire truck to come out of town than to move now where it is,” he said.