Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Budget being put together for the renovation of May Pen Cemetery

Published:Friday | October 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie (second left) points to a grave in the May Pen Cemetery in Kingston, that was desecrated by vandals, during a tour earlier this year.

The special multi-stakeholder committee that is spearheading the renovation of the May Pen Cemetery in Kingston is in the process of finalising the budget and identifying funding for the project's implementation.

The committee, which was appointed by Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie, is chaired by Kingston and St. Andrew (KSAC) Town Clerk Robert Hill.

Hill tells JIS News that a preliminary estimate "conservatively" puts the project's implementation at a cost of $400 million.

He says that several funding sources, which were explored and proposed by McKenzie, were being considered by the committee as it moves to finalise these arrangements.

They include the Tourism Product Development Company; the Tourism Enhancement Fund; and the Culture, Health, Arts, Sport and Education Fund, as well as international funding partners.

Hill said that the project's scope and timeline have been established, noting that implementation is expected to be undertaken in three phases over an 18-month period.


Rebuilding and reconstruction


Activities slated to be carried out include landscaping, rebuilding and reconstruction of the access road and other supporting infrastructure, restoration of the administrative offices and desecrated graves, with the latter to be undertaken in tandem with the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department, and streamlining of the cemetery's records management system to facilitate accurate documentation of burials.

Hill says additional features being considered include construction of a columbarium to facilitate additional burials when the cemetery's land space has been used up, and revisiting the overall manner in which interments are done.

The town clerk explains that consideration is being given to restricting the erection of elaborate headstones and mausoleums, but instead, resorting to straight burials.

This would entail double or triple plots, usually comprising vaults that can accommodate two or more caskets positioned on top of each other with average-size headstones, as obtains in some privately operated cemeteries.

"This would facilitate better economic use of the land and ensure that we do so responsibly and, of course, with dignity and respect for the dead," Hill says.

He adds that consideration is also being given to constructing a gazebo to serve as an area for quiet time by persons whose loved ones are buried in the cemetery.