Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
CROSS KEYS, Manchester:
The Cross Keys community, nestled in the hilly terrains of south Manchester, has many hidden treasures according to Hudlyn Pitter, public relations officer for the Cross Keys Area Development Committee.
Known primarily as an agricultural community, Pitter said the area is also rich for ecotourism, and plans are now being drafted to develop the area for community tourism.
"We have some heritage sites in this community, which consist of the Canoe Valley area," Pitter discloses. "We are working with the different agencies - the Jamaica Tourist Board as well as the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica - to get this area declared as a protected area, especially the Canoe Valley region."
He said outside of a wide range of plants, the community also has the manatee on the south coast in an area called Alligator Hole, and miles of wetlands and mangroves.
Reported Pitter: "We have found artefacts in some of these caves, turtle-nesting sites and sand dunes. We have the longest beachfront in Jamaica. They say Negril is seven miles long, but from Old Woman Point up to the Alligator Hole River it's more than eight miles. We have at least five rivers from the Guts River to the Alligator Hole River. It's also two and a half miles from the school in Marley Hill to the seaside."
Pitter believes there is the potential for further development. However, he says there is the need for capacity building. The Canoe Valley Hiking and Tourism Group was established to identify locations for additional community tourism.
"We are looking at when the people come on their tour then they can have a community building that we can use for community Internet access, and where persons can also learn about computers because we realise that now is the computer age," says Pitter. "I believe there are people in the community who are willing to get that training."
Pitter is hoping that more persons in the community will become involved in the development process. He says one of the issues hampering the development process is that people are reluctant to work collectively. "If we could avoid some of our political bickering and come to one common goal I believe we would be much better off," argued Pitter.