Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Angela Brown Burke, says providing and maintaining a clean environment for family-oriented recreational activities is a major focus of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) for the development of downtown.
“We are looking, in our 140th year, to see what we do with downtown in terms of its development. It’s not just about the Waterfront, it’s also about (St. William Grant Park) in the heart of downtown. People come through every day, whether it is (to visit the) market, going to school, going to work and that kind of a thing and we believe we need to be able to provide a space that is welcoming,” she said.
The Mayor paused to speak with JIS News as she carried out Labour Day activities at the park on May 23, where the area and the neighbouring Ward Theatre are the main projects for the day.
Pointing to how well used Emancipation Park in New Kingston is, the Mayor argued it is evident that people are “screaming out” for that kind of a public space where they will feel comfortable.
This is one of the reasons, she said, why the park was chosen as the KSAC’s Labour Day project, and the fact that it will be the site for a concert on Friday (May 25) to mark the country’s first African Liberation Day celebration.
The Mayor noted that the Ward Theatre, which is in a dilapidated state and the park were also chosen because of their historical significance.
“We have a lot of history that is involved in both the Ward Theatre and St. William Grant Park, not just because they are owned by the city; they have been gifts that have been left to us, and we have a responsibility to keep them going,” she said.
Mrs. Brown Burke said the KSAC decided to collaborate with corporate entities downtown and other volunteers to clean up the area, which involves bushing, painting and cleaning drains. Activities also included planting palm trees and repairing the fountain at the park; and flaking the walls of the theatre and boarding up some areas of the structure that are falling apart.
The Mayor said she is pleased that so many volunteers such as members from the Nigerian and South African Embassies; Scotia Bank; workers and councillors from the KSAC; Flow; Pathfinders Club of the Jamaica Seventh-Day Adventist Church; and persons from the downtown community, have came out to assist with the project.
Mrs. Brown Burke said the KSAC will work to maintain today’s beautification efforts, noting the challenge of dealing with street people and others, who are mentally challenged or face other difficulties.
The Mayor said the KSAC intends to engage its partners in addressing the challenges.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter