RESIDENTS of Maverley in St Andrew on Tuesday watched with excitement as Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other members of central and local government broke ground for a multimillion-dollar park in the community.
Holness and Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke, who is the Member of Parliament for St Andrew North Western in which Maverley is located, as well as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie, were tight-lipped about the cost of the project, but they declared that they were sure it will be a source of pride for residents and the people of surrounding communities.
The park will be constructed on an open lot at the corner of Molynes Road and West Main Drive. This run-down lot, owned by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), has been used over many years to host church services and other activities or as a bypass for pedestrians heading into or leaving Maverley via Molynes Road.
McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer that the project is part of the Government’s community renewal programme that started in 2016. He said the Maverley Park will be one of the largest public parks built by the Government.
“We have done about 11 parks already across the country, and we have about 16 that are lined up to be done. This is one of the largest that we will be undertaking. What it will do is restore community pride and allow the people to have a place they can go hang out and feel free. The park will be equipped with Internet, bathroom and toilet facilities. It is going to be a comprehensive facility with canteen facilities and a walking trail. It will be outstanding and should be finished hopefully in the next 12 months. The procurement process is almost complete, so once that is completed we are going to move to the next phase,” said McKenzie.
In the meantime, Holness pointed to the importance of the project as he highlighted that not many safe spaces exist for residents of Corporate Area communities to express themselves and exercise. He encouraged the residents of Maverley to help maintain the facilities and appealed to the KSAMC to ensure adequate security is in place at all times.
“If you go to Emancipation Park it is constantly filled. Everywhere there is a green space, there is activity, but the park itself does not mean that people will come. The park has to be, first and foremost, safe. My directive to the Ministry of Local Government and the KSAMC is that there must be arrangements for safety in the park,” said Holness.
He warned that there should be no selfishness in how the park is utilised.
“The other element we have to consider for the park is that there has to be some order as to what activities can take place in the park area. When we build the park, we must ensure that everyone can have enjoyment of the park. Yes, you are going to want to keep entertainment events at the park but the park cannot become exclusively a dancehall.
‘People are going to want to walk freely, people are going to want to exercise, conduct a prayer meeting or a church service, and maybe somebody is going to put on an art exhibition. We cannot allow the park to be taken over and dominated by only one set of interests. We know that happens in some communities where one set of people take over the infrastructure and use it for their benefit to the peril and detriment of everybody else,” said Holness.
He added: “The KSAMC must ensure proper management of the park. Yes, you can keep parties there, but we have to keep something for the children, keep the flower shows and art exhibition so that there is variety and diversity. When I used to pass here, there were all kinds of things happening here.
“Cars were parked here, there was a garage here at one point in time, and, of course, there was a massive tent here and so the management of the park is going to be so important because if we leave it up, the same forces would come back, and then the investment we would have made here would have gone to naught.”