Mayor longs for Falmouth Market
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Falmouth's mayor, Garth Wilkinson, is expressing optimism that the Government will quickly grant approval for construction work to begin on the new multimillion-dollar market and transportation centre, which is earmarked for Falmouth.
"We anticipate that the matter will get the nod from Cabinet and that construction should start sometime in early January," said Wilkinson.
Despite his optimism, Wilkinson lamented the protracted delay in the implementation of the project, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean Cruises. The project, which has funding of US$ 3.4 million, secured through the PetroCaribe Fund, should have started four years ago.
"The market should have been completed in 2010, before the cruise-ship pier was completed, because we were planning on moving the town in a particular direction and it would help in the development of the town and the parish," said Wilkinson. "Even up to a year ago, we were of the belief that work would have started because tenders were out. However, since then, we have been advised that the matter is set to go to Cabinet for approval, so we await the outcome."
Wilkinson said preparatory work was completed at the 15-acre site on Market Street in anticipation of an early start to construction last year. However, since then, a section of the perimeter fence was stolen and another section vandalised.
The mayor said part of the plan was to house the more than 700 vendors at the 'bend-down market' in the new state-of-the-art facility.
"We see from 700 to 1,500 vendors at the bend-down market, and we believe that the new facility, which will be a modern shopping centre would comfortably house those vendors as well as the other vendors from the old market," said Wilkinson.
The mayor said that while the old market is in a deplorable state, there were no plans to spend money to repair it when a new facility should be constructed.
When contacted, Dr Paul Robertson, the senior director for government relations at the Port Authority of Jamaica, offered very little insight into the project, indicating that chief executive officer Professor Gordon Shirley would be the best person to address the matter.
"All I can say is that there were a lot of things to be done, but the project is now ready to go to Cabinet for approval," said Robertson.
Shirley could not be contacted for comment as he was said to be travelling.
Regarding the transportation centre, Wilkinson said it was needed as the town suffered serious delays and inconveniences because of traffic congestion.
"This is a serious dilemma. Some motorists park at the historic sites and monuments and at other areas, creating major problems, while others seek to park in zones not designated for parking," said Wilkinson. "We have a major problem; it is a nightmare. We need the transportation centre so we can better regulate traffic flow."