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Congestion blocking commerce in Falmouth

Published:Friday | July 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMClaudia Gardner
Paul Muschette, custos of Trelawny

Western Bureau:

Some major stakeholders in Falmouth, Trelawny, are concerned that the resort town is not getting the economic spin-off which was expected from the five new major housing developments over the last 10 years.

According to Dennis Meadows, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) caretaker for Northern Trelawny, if issues such as the lack of parking space in the town are not addressed, Falmouth will only remain a dormitory community for Montego Bay, as residents venture elsewhere to do business.

"We have over 4,000 housing solutions in Falmouth. If you multiply that by roughly five, you are talking about over 20,000 or more people that have been added to the population of Falmouth ... . Trelawny's population stands at somewhere over 75,000 ... . More than 70 per cent reside in that northern belt - Falmouth and its environs," Meadows said at a recent Gleaner Growth Forum in Falmouth.

"The commercial interests are not realising the benefits of those 4,000 houses, in terms of commerce," added Meadows.

"Because the man or the woman who lives in Stonebrook, who lives in Holland Estate, who lives in Coral Springs will rather drive to Montego Bay to do commerce [or] drive to Discovery Bay to do commerce, rather than do it in Falmouth,"

He added: "Falmouth is bursting at its seams, in terms of parking. To get a space in Falmouth, if you want to go and shop, is a Herculean task."

Paul Muschette, custos of Trelawny, said he is concerned that the town's leadership has not taken the steps required to correct the issues holding back the parish capital, despite an increase in property tax revenue at the local authority as a result of the new developments.

"There is nothing to attract people to Falmouth, because even if the people in the surrounding communities don't come to Falmouth because of all the issues they have, nothing is being done to address those issues, and it will continue that way," Muschette said.

"There are 5,000 housing solutions in areas where it was just bushland, where taxes were not being collected," he noted.

"Where are all those (new) taxes that are being collected from these individual homes and lots going? Because we do not see anything being done to improve and try and get persons coming in; there is potential here, but nobody is willing to invest in Falmouth with the town the way it is."

Delroy Christie, acting president of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce, said the best solution would be to develop a new commercial complex, similar to the Fairview Complex in Montego Bay, in the southern section of the town.

"To me, the best place for Falmouth to begin its expansion drive is along Market Street. What we should do is as rapidly as we can, get those lands properly developed, put in infrastructure down there and get the commercial areas of Falmouth to move to Market Street," said Christie. "Get the traffic out of Falmouth. Let Falmouth become a true pedestrianised town so you can have proper shopping, then the town can begin to grow. We all see what Fairview has done to Montego Bay. Market Street can be Falmouth's 'Fairview'."