THE EDITOR, Sir:
YEARS AGO, there was talk of locating the owners of derelict, uninhabited buildings with a view to having them renovate the properties or demolish those that were structurally unsound. As efforts are being made at urban renewal, the authorities are encouraged to resuscitate the initiative - giving the owners a timeline within which to fix up or tear down the structures.
In instances where no action is taken, the relevant agency or agencies should have the authority to move in, flatten the shaky structures that pose a risk (physical, security, or health), move out the rubble and convert the space into a 'green area' complete with landscaped lawns, manicured flower beds, art, benches, performing spaces and play areas (with brightly coloured swings, slides and jungle gyms). The work of the National Housing Trust in creating Emancipation Park comes readily to mind, as they transformed a dust bowl into a popular green space on the doorstep of their corporate headquarters in New Kingston. By enlisting their help and that of other entities and talented individuals, perhaps in exchange for a tax break from the Government, the project should take wings and be accomplished in a shorter period of time.
Visualise this: graffiti-scrawled walls giving way to beautiful murals, painted as a project of the community's members and the past and current students of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Indeed, these would be aesthetically more appealing.
Wrap your mind around Rastafarians, philosophers from our universities and heritage organisations sharing their visions for the nation through enlightened discourse with the members of the public. The schools of Drama, Music and Art incorporating a component whereby the students conduct their school assignments in public spaces exposing the public to the techniques of their craft, and perhaps influencing others on possible career paths - just think, students painting at the waterfront, dub poets at St William Grant Park or dancers and musicians on the steps of the Institute of Jamaica.
What will it do for the people who reside and work downtown? Provide employment, greater security, increased civic pride, platforms for them to showcase their abundant artistic abilities and possibly create an avenue for bringing residents together in unity.
Dreams can become reality. Just believe.