Tear them down! - Fuller wants to rid capital of unsightly structures
Convinced that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) has the power to utilise laws that would enable a faster rejuvenation process in the capital city, Custos of Kingston Steadman Fuller is suggesting that potentially unsafe and unsightly buildings be destroyed.
"I was talking to the town clerk and was asking what is holding the corporation back from demolishing some of those unsightly buildings," Fuller said while speaking with The Gleaner following the official launch of the Kingston and St Andrew Development and Homecoming Foundation on Wednesday.
"There are some legal matters where that is concerned, but I would have pressed very hard to get all those buildings to be flattened, particularly if they pose a problem for us structurally, or if they pose issues of criminality, where people can hide away," he said.
"The buildings make the city look unkempt, and they pose aesthetic challenges."
DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
Fuller said that he hoped Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams would do what needs to be done so that Kingston could be upgraded from being just Jamaica's capital to becoming the capital of the Caribbean.
"I don't know if the new mayor will be able to look at that and do something. I can't think that that is too difficult for the corporation to use the Town and Country Planning Act to declare a building unsafe," the custos said.
"You wouldn't lose. You would put a caveat on the property so if someone comes and claims it later, they pay the fee, and if they take too long with the fee, interest is applied. I am sure other cities do that."
... Redevelopment not all about demolition
Custos of Kingston Steadman Fuller is stressing that plans for redeveloping downtown Kingston should never be solely about demolishing old buildings and erecting new ones.
Instead, Fuller said that social and housing arrangements must be high on the list to ensure that residents are not displaced.
He said that he was confident that downtown Kingston would come back to its glory days of beautification, safety, and commerce.
"It's not just about putting up businesses and buildings, but also social arrangements for the people who live down there. A number of people live in downtown in real squalor circumstances. I don't think it is a good mix to have just nice buildings put up without taking care of those people. I think the Government needs to use the [National] Housing Trust and have housing solutions for those persons because a number of them are persons who live on properties that have been abandoned by the original owners, so anybody can live there."
Fuller added: "Children grow up in those environments, so you can't expect them to grow differently. Companies like GraceKennedy still believe in downtown. A major development is being done for their offices. Digicel is there, and I think a hotel is coming there, and my information is that a lot of the properties there have been taken up for future development."