JIS News

In the latter part of 2008, Dr. Clifton Reid was invited by the Manchester Parish Council to chair the Brooks Park Development Management Board. The mandate of the Board was for the development of a family theme park, similar to Emancipation Park in Kingston.
“We want to capture an Emancipation Park type thing, where people can go and relax and walk, play and jog. At the same time, over the years, Brooks Park has had an association with sport, so we have tried to capture as many sports as possible in this entity,” Dr. Reid told JIS News.
“It’s going to be a sport, amalgamated with a family fun type park,” he pointed out.
Brooks Park is a 38-acre property on Wint Road, Mandeville, owned by the Manchester Parish Council. In recent years, eight acres of the land have been leased to three entities namely the Manchester Horticultural Society, which has used its acreage for the Manchester Horticultural Showground; the Ministry of Education, to house the Mandeville Infant School; and the Lions Club of Mandeville, which has a Health and Civic Centre on its portion.
The development of Brooks Park will take five phases. Phase one, consisting of earth work and grading of some sections of the property, was started as part of Labour Day activities in May, when the Manchester Parish Council adopted the park as its parish Labour Day project.
This phase is estimated to cost approximately $20 million, and will include an amphitheatre, a family picnic area, a kiddies area and a multi-purpose court.
“Essentially, the business plan is still being developed but, because the need exists to do something now, what we have done is to bring forward phase one. We have estimated that it will take about $20 million to complete phase one,” Dr. Reid revealed.
He told the JIS that three Members of Parliament for Manchester – Peter Bunting, Dean and Michael Peart – have each pledged $2 million towards the development of the park. The management team is also seeking the involvement of Member of Parliament for North East Manchester and Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw.
“We should be able to build the amphitheatre with about $5 million, so the funds from the MPs would go primarily to start the amphitheatre to raise funds to assist with the further development of the park,” he noted.
The other phases include the enhancement of the current football field, by constructing a mini stadium with seating for approximately 10,000 to 15,000 spectators. The mini stadium will also include cycle and athletic tracks.
The stands in the mini stadium will be elevated to allow shops to be accommodated underneath them, which would be the major attraction, Dr. Reid pointed out.
“We intend to have a civic centre that is probably going to be the busiest part of the park because, in that civic centre, we hope to capture all the major sports. It will double as a sporting arena for tennis, boxing, table tennis and lawn tennis, but when you have like a pantomime, you will simple reconfigure the seating arrangements and it will be a theatre, and we have the designs for that,” he noted.
“It’s probably going to be the most active part of the park. I expect it to be used every day, based on the number of sports that are going to be using it,” he added.
There are also plans for the installation of a heated indoor swimming pool and a pond, complete with birds, ducks and fish that will double-up as a source of water for keeping the park green.
Dr. Reid said that the management team is in dialogue with horticultural interests, to develop the entire 38 acres as a holistic, green park, in conjunction with the horticultural show interest.
A Korean Government-funded Youth Information Centre (YIC) will also be located at Brooks Park. The Finance and Fundraising committees are in the process of sending letters to some local groups, in order to solicit funding.
Dr. Reid noted that many persons are sceptical about any attempts to develop the Park, because so many attempts had failed in the past.
“We have a team now that is dedicated, absolutely intends to deliver on this, even if it takes us 20 or more years. So this is going to happen, full stop. There are no ifs, buts or maybes; it’s going to happen,” he insisted.
He said that one of the strategies that the public relations team will be using to sell the idea, is the sale of promotional novelties.
“First we are going to print items such as caps, T-shirts, bumper stickers etcetera, that we will sell to the public and those monies will go toward the development. We are also going to include tins,” he pointed out.
Dr. Reid noted that, a few months ago, the park was cleaned up and made habitable for athletes and footballers and various groups that are now using it.
In addition to being used as a venue for the annual sports day of some schools and for other sports competitions, Brooks Park is noted for being the venue for stage shows in the past.
“It has been too long that Manchester has gone without a proper park,” remarked Dr. Reid.

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