Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
RIVERSDALE, St Catherine:
IT WAS a joyous occasion for residents of Riversdale in north east St Catherine as they gathered at the community centre in anticipation of its official opening recently.
"It looks nice, man. It look very good," a smiling 72-year-old Evan Barnett told The Gleaner.
"It was an old market house that was there for so many years and nothing was happening," remarked Gregory Mair, member of parliament, while giving an overview of the project.
The transformation of the building was funded with a grant of $4 million from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.
In 2009, a multi-purpose court was established at the complex, as one of six national Labour Day projects.
"The next step now is the football field. The football field needs attention so we can have a proper, levelled playing ground for our young men," said Mair.
Hilary Coulton, public relations and administrative manager, CHASE Fund, disclosed that during its nine years of existence, the fund has approved just over $7.9 billion for projects in sports, health, education, arts and culture.
She encouraged residents of the rural farming community to initiate programmes and projects, which aim to develop or improve their community, as well as enhance community spirit.
She urged them to make it "a centre where classes and workshops enhance the skills and members of the community; an environment, which will provide high-quality opportunities for the exploration of the creative arts; and a space for personal enrichment and community connection".
In the meantime, Baldvin McKenzie, Social Development Commission St Catherine parish manager, urged citizens to abide by the regulations, which govern the facility, when they want to use it.
"You must follow procedure to get the facility to use. You must apply for it and if there is a fee attached based on what you are going to use it for, you must pay that fee," said McKenzie.
Reverend Doreen Merchant, who chairs the Riversdale Community Development Committee, which will ultimately become the management team, told The Gleaner that it would embark on several initiatives as it seeks to satisfy the needs of the residents.
A proud Jodi-Ann Bent, 23-year-old captain of the Riversdale Netball Club, which won the Riversdale Community Centre official opening netball competition, was optimistic that young people would benefit greatly from the facility.