Portmore Climate Change Park hits a snag
The Portmore Climate Change Park, an ambitious joint-venture project between the city of Hagen in Germany and the Portmore municipality which started in 2016 and should have been completed in 2018, has hit a snag.
However, Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas, while forcefully pushing back on St Catherine South Eastern Member of Parliament Robert Miller’s assertion that $160 million have been spent on the park, said the original concept has not been lost.
“We are having a series of discussions now with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and the citizens of Portmore to see how we can move forward and complete the project,” Thomas revealed.
“The UDC, however, is looking at expanding the size of the park to 30 acres instead of 15, which was the original plan,” he added.
According to Thomas, the Transport Authority has withdrawn its plan to establish a transport centre on 15 acres of land adjoining the park, thus making the land available for the expansion.
The municipality established a partnership with Hagen in 2012, and as part of this partnership, the two cities developed the Hagen -Portmore Climate Change Park Project to be established on 15 acres of land in Passagefort, Portmore.
Then Mayor of Hagen Erik O. Schulz, at the groundbreaking ceremony in 2016, announced that the German government would allocate €250,000 towards the project, with the understanding that the Jamaican Government would match this amount.
The Government of Jamaica subsequently raised the status of the project by making it a national project, and allocated $30 million, contained in the 2017-18 Estimates of Expenditure, following up on its commitment to match the Germans in funding.
Thomas, who signed off on the agreement with the Germans, said the cost to develop the Climate Change Park was revised to $176 million and the combined allocations from the Germans and the Government of Jamaica are woefully short.
“The money that was talked about, we did not receive. We received a little over $14 million from the city of Hagen, this is woefully short of what they had promised to us,” the mayor told The Gleaner.
Thomas continued: “The Jamaican Government ,which was to provide 50 per cent of the money, we have just received $25,498,000, so there is no way that allocation could have complete the park.”
The mayor added that some $42 million have been spent in the design process, which includes the landscaping, the dumping of the top soil, the irrigation, the lagoon and numerous other things.
The project, touted as the first of its kind in the English speaking Caribbean, aims to raise public awareness on the issues of climate change among residents in Portmore and its environs.
As part of the project, the installation of photovoltaic and solar thermal power systems, as well as small wind turbines to supply irrigation, pumping and wastewater recycling system with renewable energy were to be installed. In addition to the creation of a green space for relaxation, it would also serve as an educational tool to promote the use of renewable energy and contribute to the reduction of carbon footprint.
The mayor said the Germans are still on board, and as far he was made to understand, they did not complete the disbursement of the money they had promised because the Government of Jamaica had not lived up to its commitment to provide 50 per cent of the cost, and the period for the Germans to release the money had ran out.