Fri | Dec 6, 2019

Hope Gardens open for business again - Management to be more selective with events hosted there

Published:Wednesday | November 13, 2019 | 12:34 AMShereita Grizzle/Staff Reporter
A party held at Hope Gardens earlier this year. The management is putting strategies in place to prevent noise from spilling over into the neighbouring communities.
A party held at Hope Gardens earlier this year. The management is putting strategies in place to prevent noise from spilling over into the neighbouring communities.

A notice last week informing Hope Gardens of the discontinuance of a lawsuit filed against them by residents of Hope Pastures has allowed the space to be reopened as a venue for entertainment events.

In an exclusive interview, Hugh Anthony Porter, general manager of the Nature Preservation Foundation – the organisation responsible for the management and operation of the gardens – expressed joy at being able to again host events but said that it will not be business as usual. Porter says his team has now put in place noise-reduction strategies. He believes that these will go a far way in managing events hosted on the grounds in the future.

“We’ve had to call in some acoustics people to advise us on how to best reduce the noise from the events. We had consults with Main Event and Sparkles Production, and we’re also seeking the advice of an acoustics engineer as we sort out ways to move forward,” he said. “We didn’t have any of those (noise-reduction strategies) to begin with, but because of the issues we have been faced with in recent times, we have had to implement some. It (the strategies) deals with things like using technology to limit the noise to a specific area so the sound is concentrated in the space where the event is being held.”

In addition to finding ways to reduce noise, Porter said he and his team will now be very selective with the events they decide to host. “We’re open for business but we want to promote a different type of event. We want to be responsible and respectful to the people and the environment in which we operate. We want to promote events that start earlier and end earlier so we’re targeting weddings, corporate events, breakfast parties, etc,” he said.

Porter went on to state that if he had a choice, he would prefer the grounds not be used as an event venue at all but says management has had to find alternate ways to generate revenue, and hosting events has been pulling in some well-needed funds. “Rental of the gardens accounts for about 38 per cent of our overall revenue and as a result of the lawsuit, aside from the legal costs, we are down almost $20 million year-to-date on our revenues,” he disclosed. “We want to be able to finance the activities of Hope Gardens in such a way that we do not have to excessively rent the space. I would prefer to look out and see a Jamaican family on a Sunday with a picnic basket laying on the lawns and enjoying the space but when you have the major botanical space in this country and we cannot afford a ride-on mower which is an essential equipment or when yuh have a tractor parked for over a year because we need near $2 million, we have to look at alternate ways to bring in revenue.”

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com