Public park opens in Montego Bay
Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
The upgraded Old Hospital Park on Gloucester Avenue in Montego Bay, which will serve as a public space for locals and visitors to the western city, was officially opened yesterday.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $45million facility, which was renovated through the efforts of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Urban Development Corporation and the St James Parish Council.
Bartlett described the event as a red-letter day for the development of modern Montego Bay.
"We wanted to have Montego Bay not only be the most beautiful city and the centre of tourism in the Caribbean, but we wanted the lungs of the city to be able to provide the energy that the city needs to breathe and to be," he remarked.
"I know that there are many who have fought over the years for this to happen."
He also indicated that the creation of the park is part of a larger development plan for Gloucester Avenue, popularly known as the 'Hip Strip'.
Ground was broken for the project in December 2009, with a completion date of June 2010.
The National Solid Waste Management Authority provided the landscaping work while Lawson Construction Company was the contractor.
first step of journey
A team from the parish council will manage the park, and TEF has committed to provide funding for the complex's maintenance over the next three years.
"The development of this park must be viewed as just the first step on a journey, and it will be imperative on all of us to ensure that other critical areas are developed that will provide more empowerment and an additional recreational stay for our citizens and visitors to this parish," said mayor of Montego Bay, Charles Sinclair.
Lloyd B. Smith, third vice-president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, said the park represents a culmination of the efforts of all major stakeholders, and that it would be a true representation of Montego Bay's great characteristics.
"This Old Hospital Park is, indeed, a thing of beauty, and I can only hope that in the years to come, it will be treated as such. This park, it is hoped, will remain a symbol of the all-inclusiveness of Montego Bay," Smith said.