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The community of Salt Spring in St. James now has a community park where residents can gather for recreation, physical activity and to socialise in a pleasant atmosphere.

The green space was provided by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of $4 million under the agency’s Integrated Community Development Project II (ICDP II).

It includes installation of perimeter fencing, gates, park benches and tables; construction of a gazebo; provision of solar lighting; and landscaping, including oriental plants.

The new park will benefit 9,487 residents.

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Homer Davis, in his address at the official handover of the community park on Thursday (May 12), said that the facility will be a “game changer and will play a major role in the ongoing transformation of this community”.

He noted that implementation of social-intervention initiatives in Salt Spring has been reaping rewards.

“The history of Salt Spring and the stigma that has been attached to this community is well known. However, thanks to the many and varied social-intervention [initiatives] which have been implemented by agencies such as JSIF, the change in the attitude of citizens, the change to responsible behaviour, and the general positivity of everyone, have become very noticeable,” he pointed out.

Mr. Davis lauded JSIF for its continued efforts in implementing transformational initiatives across the parish of St. James.

“JSIF has been active in Mount Salem and Norwood through the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO). Their fingerprints have been visible in Flanker, in Barrett Town, in Anchovy, in several schools [and] in the building of a new fire station for the city of Montego Bay. This parish will forever be grateful to [JSIF]. St. James, today, is a better place because of the intervention of JSIF,” Mr. Davis noted.

The State Minister encouraged the residents of Salt Spring to protect the park, noting that the space should become a hub for community activities.

“It can be used as a homework centre, for the holding of youth club meetings and, most of all, recreational activities, which I am sure will help to build and mend many bridges,” he noted.

For his part, Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, commended the Salt Spring Community Development Committee for partnering with the entity to make the park a reality.

“The park is not just about playing; it is to provide an environment that… you can sit there with a person and resolve conflicts, or you can go there and cool off… . Today is about building from strength to strength, I expect that this area is just a start of what can happen,” he said.

Mr. Sweeney noted that interventions spearheaded by JSIF in Salt Spring have sparked change.

Among these are the Safe Passage Project, aimed at ensuring the safe commute of children to and from school, as well as the Environmental Wardens Programme, which trains persons to keep their communities clean and encourages healthy environmental behaviour by residents.

Mr. Sweeney expressed gratitude to the European Union (EU) for its partnership in the execution of the ICDP, which aims to promote public safety and transformation through the delivery of basic infrastructure and social services in 18 vulnerable communities across the island.

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