News

Big south coast plans

Upgrade of Norman Manley’s birthplace among major development projects

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, December 03, 2012    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — If chairman of the South Coast Resort Board Tony Freckleton has his way, Roxborough, the inadequately maintained birthplace of National Hero Norman Manley, a few miles south of Mandeville, should be significantly upgraded by July next year.

Under a plan by the resort board, a small museum and camp site will be developed along with resurfaced access road by the time of celebration of the National Hero’s birth on July 4 next year.

The project is slated to cost $42.6 million provided by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). “The money is there, so if all the various agencies do their work, it should be done by July 4 next year,” Freckleton told the Jamaica Observer Central.

Freckleton pledged that, when completed, the project at Roxborough will be worthy of a National Hero and somewhere people “will want to go for weddings and so forth”.

The planned Roxborough project is one of several being promoted by the South Coast Resort Board in its coverage area extending from Ferris Crossing in Westmoreland, through St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon to enhance heritage and community tourism.

All told, Freckleton says about $250 million will be spent over the next two-and-a-half years on “areas of interest” on the south coast in

partnership with other agencies of Government, including the National Works Agency (NWA), which has responsibility for roads.

Among the projects are planned improvement of the Scott’s Cove fish vendors’ village on the border of Westmoreland and St Elizabeth. Freckleton said improved sanitation, water storage, garbage collection and parking will result from work at Scott’s Cove over the next few months.

“We expect to be at First-World standards at Scott’s Cove,” said Freckleton. He said about $30 million had been budgeted for the improvements there, which had been downscaled to exclude previous plans to move the vendors across the road.

The historic St Elizabeth parish capital Black River is also to get a facelift. However, a more longterm plan, first developed by the resort board and nurtured by former member of parliament for South West St Elizabeth Chris Tufton, is for a boardwalk on the town’s shoreline.

“The boardwalk would be the complete length of the shoreline so visitors can stroll along,” said Freckleton.

He emphasised that the boardwalk was “a more big-ticket item” and would not be part of the twoand-a-half-year, $250-million plan. Plans to bring small cruise ships to Black River, which would drop anchor offshore with passengers being ferried to land, as happens in other Caribbean islands, were also in train, Freckleton said.

He visualised cruise ship passengers being taken up the river on daily boat tours as well as to other attractions in St Elizabeth, including YS falls and the Appleton Rum Tour.

A major plan to be implemented within months, costing $12 million, will involve upgrade of the Lovers’ Leap attraction in South East St Elizabeth. Currently a bar is operated by the state-run Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo).

The plan is to properly equip the unused restaurant a well as the lounge before leasing the complex to a private entrepreneur. Earlier this year, the St Elizabeth Parish Development Committee, which is headed by businessman Jason Henzell, announced its interest in running the facility.

Freckleton said “three or four” commercial interests had made known their desire to operate Lover’s Leap.

Freckleton spoke of a long-term aim to have “hiking trails down to the beach” at Lover’s Leap and log cabins to facilitate visitors.

The South Coast Resort Board is also projecting major improvements in the Hopewell/Great Bay area, including road surface improvements and maintenance of the unfinished drainage canal. Started in 2006, following major flooding of Great Bay and other sections of Treasure Beach in 2005, the canal is only half done because of a lack of funds. However, it has been credited for preventing major flooding in the area since then.

Freckleton said upgrading projects would also be carried out in underdeveloped attractions in South Manchester and south Clarendon, including Gut’s River, Alligator Hole, Milk River and Salt River.

In Mandeville, work is to be completed on upgrading and beautification of the park and town centre. “We want the Mandeville town centre to look inviting,” he said.

Freckleton also spoke of other long-term plans for a farm museum in the so -called breadbasket areas o South St Elizabeth, conversion of the hurricane-wrecked historic Malvern courthouse and police station into a museum; and highlighting of historic sites such as Tombstone and a several hundred-year-old Jewish cemetery in Lacovia.

First formed in the 1990s, resort boards were dsbanded in 2008 by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government with the promise that they would be replaced by parish committees. The resort boards were re-established by the People’s National Party (PNP) Government earlier this year.

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