Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Revisiting entertainment zoning

Published:Thursday | March 24, 2016 | 3:00 AMMel Cooke
File Damion Crawford
File A view of Ocean Boulevard along the waterfront.
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At some point in the tenure of the previous political administration, I drove past a peculiar party on the waterfront in downtown Kingston. Although the music was blasting, there were no party people around and deliberately so, as it was a sound test to check how the volume affected people living in the area (that would be primarily Ocean Towers).

The test was for something more regular than these one-off or annual productions and lasting longer than the occasional event launches that are also held on the waterfront.

In case we have forgotten, about two years ago there was a discussion about creating entertainment zones. Driven largely in public discussion by former Junior Minister Damion Crawford, the plan was to see if using the parking lots along the waterfront as entertainment venues in the nights was feasible. Added to that were thoughts of using containers to create areas for parties along the Palisadoes strip, with bus service from the city a part of the logistics for facilitating as safe a consistent fun zone as possible.

Then there were indications that there was interest in zoning plans for particular areas, with the Olympic Way strip which already had a number of weekly parties a proposed early test point for the model of concentrating events in areas where there was general consensus that it was acceptable. There would be various tiers of this arrangement.

I have reservations about this zoning, because not all persons in a community have the same say in what happens in the community and, despite the 2010 Tivoli incursion and supposed curtailing of the dons, the 'area leader' is still a factor in the lower socio-economic strata, especially in the urban setting. So while it may seem that a particular are a has agreed to be a party zone between specified hours, it is possible that those against the idea simply have no real say, and, in the main the economic activity benefits only one set of people.

Using the waterfront and Palisadoes strip is another matter. In any city fortunate to have a harbour, the area around the water becomes the focal point of economic activity, including dining, music, the theatre, art galleries and such the like. But not so in Kingston, which just happens to have one of the world's largest natural harbours. Yes, there is the National Gallery, the Institute of Jamaica, monthly lunch-hour concerts at the bank of Jamaica and a restaurant in the Jamaica Conference Centre, but not much else. (The somewhat regular boat-ride parties on the Caribbean Queen across the Kingston Harbour are not to be left out.)

As the summer period fast approaches, with the accompanied rise in events, these are things to consider taking a serious look at. It would be good if there was an effort to have those who want to party and those who want to sleep coexist in harmony sometimes with a couple of empty containers separating them.