Threat to a life of peace and harmony
It is often said that there is no rule under the sun that the average Jamaican cannot, and will not, break. That is, except for those who live at the picturesque Caymanas Country Club Estate in St Catherine.
Just over two years old, already the perfectly manicured lawns, squeaky clean roads, absence of fences and grillwork, and identical houses with cars and SUVs neatly parked inside driveways, present the surreal feeling of being in a North American suburb.
But no, you are still in Jamaica, and it's not a resort property, either. The middle-class residents are proud of their multimillion-dollar investment and, guided by a vibrant and diligent executive association, abide by the strata rules governing ownership.
"There are some owners who live abroad, but their tenants obey the rules," said Lily-Marie Hall, who has just demitted office as public relations officer for the citizens' group there.
On a tour of the community yesterday, Hall told The Gleaner that the garbage truck that was seen comes every Sunday, so residents know that they should put their garbage out and collect the bins as soon as they are emptied.
"If someone's grass grows too much and they don't cut it, the executive does and gives them the bill. If a fence is put up at the side of a house, it cannot exceed 10 feet in height. Everyone has to obey the covenant governing the sides of houses, where no addition can be made, only at the back and upstairs, and permits must be gained from the relevant authorities before building materials can come in," she noted.
Pets are allowed at Caymanas Country Club Estate, but they must be kept inside the houses and cannot be a nuisance to neighbours. Only residents can give the security guards at the gate permission for their guests to enter the complex, so there is a high level of assurance that residents are safe. Failure to pay monthly maintenance fees for two consecutive months means that residents are placed on the delinquent list and lose the privilege of having the guards open the gate for them; they would have to get out of their car and do it themselves, as well as for visitors.
"We have to live up to our country club image," said Hall, who told The Gleaner that there were two specific landscape companies, and even mobile car-wash personnel who come to the homes of residents to wash and vacuum their vehicles.
Parking is not allowed along the roadway inside the estate. When several guests are expected for an event being hosted by a resident, the guards are notified and special parking arrangements made. If residents are planning to cook something from which excessive smoke will be emitted, or if loud music is involved, fellow residents must be informed. By extension, the neighbouring Caymanas Polo Club lets them know when big functions are planned.
The complex comprises some 800 houses in two phases: the first phase comprises blocks A and B, and the second has blocks C, D, E, and F. Houses are still available in Block F, which is almost complete. There are three- and two-bedroom units with spacious, open-concept living, dining and kitchen area. The individual laundry area can be completed to specification. Each block also has its own play area for children, but there is one large recreational area with swimming pools, football field, tennis and basketball courts and restrooms, as well as an open area that can be rented by residents for parties and other functions.
But the peace and tranquility of this middle-upper-class gated community is now under threat from the nuisance posed by the newly opened north-south leg of the highway.