Municipal Corporation crafts development plan for St Thomas
The St Thomas Municipal Corporation is currently crafting a sustainable development plan for the parish - a move that follows years of neglect and underdevelopment in this eastern section of the country.
Errol Greene, secretary manager of the corporation, said the plan is expected to be completed within the next 18 to 24 months.
Currently, the more than 360-year-old capital, Morant Bay, is dense and has no space for expansion. "If we should look at Morant Bay now, I don't know where we can put a new building because we don't have the amenities. We don't have central sewer and the water table is very low, so we face a challenge with sewage. We just don't have the facilities," he pointed out.
Greene noted that there was unanimity among the political representatives in St Thomas that the town of Morant Bay should be expanded to the west of the parish.
"We have the old Goodyear Factory with good infrastructure there, a hydroelectric plant, and a lot of water ... . We have a number of new housing schemes, and a few developers are knocking at the door looking to expand St Thomas," Greene said in a Gleaner interview.
He said that St Thomas is becoming the new attraction as a dormitory community, adding that with improved roads, it could take 45 minutes from the capital to Kingston.
With sugar cane production on the decline in the parish, Greene said the challenge is to find alternative agricultural produce that can grow in the St Thomas environment.
Highlighting what he said was a vibrant mining industry in the parish, Greene said truckers were now hauling limestone for export in eastern St Thomas. "We have medical-grade limestone in St Thomas, so I suppose that that is an attraction," he added.
Despite the flurry of economic activity that takes place in the area of mining in St Thomas, the secretary manager indicated that it appears that not much of the money generated from the business stayed in the parish.
Conceding that the trucks that carry aggregate in the parish contribute significantly to the damage done to the roads, Greene said he had made a recommendation that a cess be levied on the operators of these vehicles for the purpose of maintaining the roadways.
Greene said he first made the suggestion while he was town clerk at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and has reiterated the idea at the St Thomas Municipal Corporation. However, he said to date, there has been no indication from policymakers that this revenue-earning proposal would be pursued.