St Thomas residents doubtful about film lot
MORANT BAY, St Thomas:
RESIDENTS OF St Thomas are dubious about the construction of a film lot on the site of the old Goodyear factory, plans for which are slowly taking shape.
Industry Minister Anthony Hylton revealed that a high-end film park would eventually be constructed on the property, announcing that investors had already found some of the capital necessary. But nearly a year later, no actual construction has been carried out, and residents in and around the area of the old factory say they are not holding their breaths to see the development anytime soon.
A resident of Springfield, Robert Telfer, was sure that there would be no development for the next several years.
"They always saying that they going to put something there. It's about three plans I've heard of, including a call centre, and still nothing. I don't expect it to get off the ground soon," Telfer told The Gleaner.
He also pointed out that the delays would be exacerbated by government red tape, and that bureaucracy would be an issue.
"It's a government project, and government land. Like everything else in Jamaica, it will move slow. A lot of red tape need hurdling first," he said.
Other residents have questioned the viability of a film lot in the area and are concerned about the ramifications for average citizens.
"My question is, will there be jobs for us? And not just cleaning up the place and standing guard over it. Will residents of St Thomas be able to earn what they used to when there was a tyre factory there?" J. Cooper, a shopkeeper in Morant Bay, asked.
The Goodyear tyre factory employed more than 200 people until its abrupt closure in 1997. Many people point to the closure of the factory as a major blow to St Thomas and the point at which the parish began a steady decline.
"Many families across St Thomas were affected by it. Some never recovered. Whatever replaces the factory must be something that will have as much impact as the tyre company did," Cooper said.
Suggestions for use
Other residents are adamant that other uses should be found for the facility. A civil servant, who declined to be named, suggested the government offices be moved from the town of Morant Bay to the Goodyear complex.
"What they should do is establish a government hub there. All the government offices can be housed down there, and people will have one stop when paying taxes and doing other business. That way, the town will open up for new businesses to be established," she said.
Whatever is established at the site, however, residents are anxious for any development in the parish, calling on the Government to create employment and stimulate investment in other areas.
"What we need here are jobs that can feed our families and allow us to live. The hustling not working. We need hope for our youth," Cooper said.