An agreement was signed and ground broken Friday (February 19), for the development of the Old Hospital site, in Montego Bay, into a natural, recreational public space.
Deputy General Manager, Economic Development and Corporate Relations, Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Lenworth Tracey, and Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Joan Gordon-Webley, were signatories to the agreement. Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, and Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Charles Sinclair, signed as witnesses.
The project, which will be funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to the tune of $30 Million, will see some $12 .5 million going to the NSWMA, while $17 .5 million will go to Lawson’s Construction.
The NSWMA contract calls for the agency to create and beautify an open green space, with walkways, gazebos and seating on the compound. This will compliment the work being carried out by Lawson’s Construction, which involves provision of administrative and sanitary amenities, electrical supplies and perimeter fencing for the park.
Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Joan Gordon-Webley (sitting centre), signing the contract for the development of the Old Hospital site in Montego Bay, while Deputy General Manager of the UDC, Lenworth Tracey (sitting right), awaits his turn. Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett (sitting left) along with Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Charles Sinclair (standing left) and Executive Director of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), Ian Neita (standing right) look on.
The UDC, owners of the park, will be collaborating with all involved through the provision of project management services toward the completion of the project by the end of May this year.
In his presentation, Mr. Bartlett said that the park will not only provide a green space for Montego Bay, but will become the signature area for relaxation, for young and old people alike, and for reminiscing on what the area was before.
Noting that the site was the former location of the main Public Hospital for Montego Bay, which would have been where a great number of Montegonians were born, the Tourism Minister pointed out it has “morphed” into a new reality.
He said that the site has become a garden for a new life-form; of shrubbery, decorative plants, palms, walking areas, areas for jogging, for health and wellness.
” So look at the metamorphosis: it began as a Hospital site for healing purposes; now it is morphing into one for regeneration and restoration of health, and the maintenance and sustenance of physical fitness and an appreciation of the rich flora of beautiful Jamaica”, he explained.
The Minister also observed that the new park will fit neatly into the Spruce Up Jamaica programme which is in place for the wider Montego Bay, adding that the value of the project will be unquantifiable to the Montego Bay community.
Executive Director of the TEF, Ian Neita, announced that his organization will be launching a competition among secondary and tertiary students, in Montego Bay, to find a new name for the park when it is completed.
“We have already had discussions with the UDC in this regard. We are going to set up a panel and we are going to issue the criteria and the rules and, at the end of April, we are going to sit down and deliberate and come up with a new name based on the input from the students,” he stated.
He said that the new name will be unveiled when the park is officially opened, close to the end of May. Every effort will be made to retain as much of the history of the site as is possible, he concluded.