MONTEGO BAY, St James - In a move geared towards transforming downtown Montego Bay into an attractive location, Lloyd B Smith, the member of parliament for Central St James has announced plans to upgrade the museum at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, located in the historic Sam Sharpe Square.
"The civic centre, which falls into my constituency..... it is my intention to create a full-fledged museum on the ground floor,"disclosed Smith, who is commonly referred to as 'The Governor' of Montego Bay.
Smith, who is also Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives indicated that he will be advocating that the proposed museum display pieces of Jamaican art and artefacts and "all sorts of wonderful items" that he said, he was told have to be "put away" due to a lack of space to exhibit them at the National Art Gallery and the Institute of Jamaica, respectively.
He charged that the 10 year -old civic centre which was constructed under the San Jose Accord at a cost of $155 million, is a white elephant that is "serving no meaningful purpose."
" It has become a pissoire where people come and use it; it has become a whorehouse facilitated by ladies of the night in the rear section of the building. We are going to have to find some way of fencing it around. That civic centre represents our history, it represents us, it is at the heart of the city and it ought not to smell the way it does, it ought not to be ignored the way it does, and I intend to change that," Smith emphasised.
He was addressing the launch of the third staging of the Jamaica Tourist Board -endorsed BritJam Spring Break festival at the Whitter Village in St James last week Thursday.
The festival which has J Wray and Nephew,
as title sponsors is to run in the tourist resort city between Tuesday, March 6 to Monday, March 12.
The concept is based on an infusion of British and American cultures mixed with a Jamaican variety to bring more value to the Spring Break vacationers. Some seven signature parties along with the main event, Fantasy Island, which will showcase top Jamaican artistes are planned for the week's activities.
In the meantime, Smith expressed optimism that the event will grow from "strength to strength" and become one of the major calendar events, not only for Montego Bay, but for Jamaica and hopefully the Caribbean".
He also articulated his intent to lobby Tourism and Entertainment Minister Dr Wykeham Mc Neill- on behalf of the organisers of BritJam in a bid to make the festival enjoy the same level of sponsorship as other music festivals staged in western Jamaica.
"I would really like to see this event attracting the same level of sponsorship and recognition that has been given to Reggae Sumfest and the Jazz and Blues Festival. Because I think what you have here going for you is worthy of such an elevation," he argued.