Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
ENSOM CITY, St Catherine:
UNLIKE SOME communities, Ensom City, Spanish Town, St Catherine, boasts a community centre and an active citizens' association; however, while the association initiates and implements community-development projects and programmes, for some time now, it has not been able to use the centre to host any of these activities.
"We used to have several activities here, but a number of persons have shied away from using the community centre for events, and so on, because of safety issues," Raymond Brown, president, Ensom City Citizens' Association, told The Gleaner.
He said thugs have constantly vandalised the centre, which Central St Catherine Member of Parliament Olivia 'Babsy' Grange refurbished after it was damaged by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
In recent times, criminal elements have removed the windows from the kitchen and the back door, while the bathroom and kitchen need to be refurbished.
In light of this, he said his organisation has again asked Grange for assistance to refurbish and fence the centre.
"I had put it to the Sports Development Foundation to fence the facility. I am not sure if I will get any support, but I will call again, but in the meantime, I am now putting together a proposal to send to Digicel Foundation for assistance," Grange told The Gleaner.
According to Brown, "ASHTROM, the developer for the community, also indicated that they would assist, but they wouldn't take it on solely to fence the back of the area. We did an estimate, and it came out to $2.4 million just to fence the area."
Grange, however, said she would provide funding to repair the centre, which boasts a multi-purpose court, but insisted that an efficient management committee must be established to manage and maintain the facility, once the repairs have been done.
Furthermore, Nadine Powell, secretary of the citizens' association, pointed out that the thick vegetation at the back of the centre was an attraction for criminal activities.
At the same time, retired vice-principal, Ensom City Primary School, Dr Abigail Cooper, who is the association's vice-president, said other retired teachers living in the community were willing to assist with the implementation of educational programmes if the centre was secured.
"We want to have classes in the evening to help the students and community members, homework programmes and other educational activities, but the safety of all is of paramount importance," Cooper told The Gleaner.
The Rio Cobre, which runs along the back of the community centre, separates Ensom City from Lauriston.
Brown said his community was often plagued by hold-ups and other criminal acts, so citizens had been working to address the issue.
"We are working with the Citizens' Security and Justice Programme to try and curb some of these. From time to time, persons invade the community, coming across the river and using the river as a means of escape," explained Brown.
Like the safety of its residents, the association is also concerned about the deplorable roads that have become an eyesore.
"Ensom Avenue is the entrance to the community and it's in a sad state. In a dialogue with the MP, she said she would address three of the roads - Ensom Avenue, Kennedy Drive, and Barness's Drive - and look at the others over time," Brown pointed out.
Grange told The Gleaner that she had collated a priority list of roads in her constituency to be rehabilitated, some of which had been submitted to the Jamaica Employment and Emergency Programme Secretariat through the National Works Agency.
She indicated that she was working to fasttrack the rehabilitation of Ensom Avenue.
PHOTOS BY KAREN SUDU