Growth Forum: Oh, for some development!
Nerris Hawthorne, head of the Lucea Development Initiative, said if the town of Lucea is to fully realise its growth potential, a comprehensive plan must be developed immediately to attract investment.
"We simply cannot make any progress without a plan. I can't see us going anywhere if we continue on the present path. Development is stagnant," said Hawthorne.
"We need to start working right away. We need to make Lucea - and, by extension, Hanover - alive and vibrant so that we can attract investment and create job opportunities."
Hawthorne said the town needs a new market; a bazaar to house street vendors; repairs to be done to the town's seawall; and a tour for visitors, covering sites such as St Mary's Anglican Church, which is one of the oldest buildings in western Jamaica, the Old Kew Sugar Factory, and the Five Fingers Falls, as well as Sir Alexander Bustamante's former house in Blenheim.
Hawthorne, a returned resident, said neglect by authorities has left the Hanover parish capital in the clutches of urban blight, which is now strangling it and limiting its ability to embrace development.
LEADERS NOT DOING ENOUGH
Hawthorne chided political and civic leaders, who, she said, have failed to muster the courage to take the requisite decisions to make a difference.
"Lucea is a town which has been neglected and looks the same way since 1956, when Anthony Winkler penned his now famous novel, The Great Yacht Race, which looked at the town," said Hawthorne, who noted that the Parish Development Committee, which is led by Cleveland Wright, is largely ineffective as no stakeholder meetings are being held, resulting in development in the parish being at a standstill.
"I established the Lucea Development Initiative with the aim of assisting the council in seeing that Lucea gets what it deserves," said Hawthorne.
Hawthrone identified Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill as one of the public officials who continue to renege on promises to develop Lucea into a vibrant tourism town, based on its history and culture.
"Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, promised to develop Fort Charlotte, to beautify certain areas, to repair the road disfigured by NWC (National Water Commission), saying he would grant the money to do the entire road surface. That was three months ago, and nothing has materialised."
Member of Parliament Ian Hayles also came in for criticism from Hawthorne, who questioned his leadership: "What have we received from him in more than two years? Nothing at all!"
Dr David Stair, custos of Hanover, also lamented the continued disregard for development of the town, while joining the call for action by leaders to develop some of the historical sites as tourist attractions to lure visitors to the seaside town.