Stakeholders express mixed views on Sam Sharpe Square fountain relocation
Past mayors of Montego Bay and key stakeholders have expressed mixed reactions to the proposal to relocate the iconic water fountain situated in the middle of the historic Sam Sharpe Square in the city.
The relocation of the monument was one of several proposals put forward by the National Works Agency (NWA) at a recent meeting, as part of a short-term countermeasure to the traffic congestion being experienced in the city.
Weighing in, former Mayor Shalmon Scott said while the idea to relocate the fountain is nothing new, it is practical solution.
He, however, is urging the relevant authorities not to make the past mistake of underestimating the rate at which vehicular and pedestrian traffic will grow in the city.
"While the idea of removing the fountain and pedestrianising the bottom section of Market Street is good, you will find that in a short time, due to population increase, the issue will go back to square one," Scott said.
"Howard Cooke Boulevard was viewed as the answer to Montego Bay's traffic problem as a bypass. So there are experiences of us attempting to solve problems with heavy investments and in not-so-long periods, the problems return due to population and vehicle increase, migration due to work or pull factors," Scott explained.
Montego Bay businessman Mark Kerr-Jarrett agrees that the idea is worth pursuing, and he believes the fountain should be placed at Dump Up as part of an upcoming development by the Urban Development Corporation to transform the site into a recreational area.
"Congestion in Montego Bay is a problem that has to be dealt with and the relocation of the fountain I think is something we as a city have to be realistic about and accept," said Kerr-Jarrett, a past president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
NOT A WISE MOVE
However, the immediate past mayor of the city, Glendon Harris, said he does not believe the proposal is a wise move.
"All that they need to do down there to ease the traffic is to remove the stoplights at the St James Street and Market Street intersection (Sam Sharpe Square) so that it does not hold up traffic in the square," Harris outlined.
"To take out the fountain, you are going to face the wrath of the citizens. Plus, the fountain adds to the aesthetics and is a feature of the city," he added.
The current mayor of Montego Bay, Homer Davis, had indicated at the meeting, which was also attended by North West St James Member of Parliament Dr Horace Chang, that he is in support of the relocation.
Davis, however, said that before any removal takes place, he will be having a meeting with the citizens and key stakeholders of the city to get their input.