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JHNT Updates Blenheim Residents About Project to Representatives of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) met with residents of Blenheim and surrounding communities in Hanover on Thursday, (Aug. 24), to provide them with details of the $2.1 million project to reconstruct the birth home of National Hero, Sir Alexander Bustamante.
The house, which is a national heritage site, was destroyed by fire in March 2005.
Director of Estate Management and Business Development with the JNHT, Gavern Tate, in outlining the project plans at the meeting held at the Cacoon All-age School, said that the house would be reconstructed to resemble the original facility, with only minimal structural changes.
“What we are going to be doing is to rebuild the house as it was. It was a 12 feet, six inches by 30 feet house, and we are putting that back; a wooden house, dividing it into three compartments. What we had before was an exhibition of Bustamante’s life as a politician, his life as a trade unionist so we would be putting that back,” he stated.
In addition, a fire-precaution feature would be added. “Another thing that we would be doing is to increase the amount of water storage that we have there. We have a 400-gallon water tank there now, we want to increase it to 1,000 gallons. Then run some irrigation lines around the house and attach it to a sprinkler system, both outside and inside the building, so in the event of a fire, somebody from the community can trip in the sprinkler system and at least keep the fire from coming up unto the building,” Mr. Tate explained.
The project, he said, would be done in two phases, with phase one, which started August 16, to involve constructing the home, putting in the additional water and fire prevention system, improving the landscape and enhancing the exhibition.
Phase two will comprise the introduction of sound unto the site, with voice speeches made by Sir Alexander, making the site into a picnic grounds with additional exhibitions in the picnic area, putting a gift shop in place and fencing the property. Mr. Tate informed that financing for phase one was already in place, while attempts were now being made to source funds for phase two.
The project is expected to be completed within eight weeks “so that means it will take us right into National Heroes Week from the 11 to the 16 of October, we expect that we are going to finish by the 16th,” he told the residents.
Mr. Tate said that when the project is completed, a fee would be charged for members of the public to access the site and view the exhibition, with this revenue going towards the upkeep and maintenance of the site.