Arthur Hall, Gleaner Writer
Downtown businessman wants the authorities to give the city a facelift
BUSINESSMAN MARCUS Handal is urging the authorities to take immediate steps to implement some little things that can lead to the rebirth of downtown Kingston.
According to Handal, while finances are tight, there are some measures which can be done now to improve the shopping experience in the city.
While accepting that the formal business operators have to play their part, Handal argues that the municipal and central government authorities have to step up.
"I agree that the business places can be given a facelift. I'm guilty of that as well, but the general area needs a facelift," Handal told The Gleaner as he pointed to the vending carts parked haphazardly and the stalls erected wherever there is space.
Handal, whose family has operated a business in Luke Lane since 1936, believes not enough attention is being given to the things that could make downtown a more friendly place to shop.
He argued that the issue of higglers on the streets has been attacked in an ad hoc basis for too long, while certain sections of the commercial district have been ignored.
"There is room for the established formal business and the higglers if it is done with discipline. Not when you are driving to your business place and you have to bob and weave around the stalls and the carts," declared Handal.
He told The Gleaner that the higglers play a key role in making downtown Kingston the vibrant shopping district that it is.
"Higglering is in the culture. You can't get away from it, and it's part of the culture of downtown," said Handal.
"All we are saying is that it must be done in an organised fashion," added Handal.
The businessman suggested the establishment of kiosks, or covered vending stalls, on the sidewalks to facilitate more order.
"You can do the higglering in an organised way where you put the kiosks and you charge the vendors a rental so that they get their light, even if the bathroom facilities might be a challenge.
"But once you get rid of the stalls that take away from the beauty of downtown, you can uplift downtown."