De­vel­op­ment plan com­ing for St Thomas

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

THE ST Thomas Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion is cur­rently craft­ing a sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment plan for the parish – a move that fol­lows years of ne­glect and un­der­de­vel­op­ment in this east­ern sec­tion of the coun­try. Er­rol Greene, sec­re­tary man­ager of the cor­po­ra­tion, said the plan is ex­pected to be com­pleted within the next 18 to 24 months. Cur­rently, the more than 360-year-old cap­i­tal, Mo­rant Bay, is dense and has no space for ex­pan­sion. “If we should look at Mo­rant Bay now, I don’t know where we can put a new build­ing be­cause we don’t have the ameni­ties. We don’t have cen­tral sewer and the wa­ter ta­ble is very low, so we face a chal­lenge with sewage. We just don’t have the fa­cil­i­ties,” he pointed out. Greene noted that there was una­nim­ity among the po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives in St Thomas that the town of Mo­rant Bay should be ex­panded to the west of the parish. “We have the old Goodyear Fac­tory with good in­fra­struc­ture there, a hy­dro­elec­tric plant, and a lot of wa­ter ... . We have a num­ber of new hous­ing schemes, and a few de­vel­op­ers are knock­ing at the door look­ing to ex­pand St Thomas,” Greene said in a Gleaner in­ter­view. He said that St Thomas is be­com­ing the new at­trac­tion as a dor­mi­tory com­mu­nity, adding that with im­proved roads, it could take 45 min­utes from the cap­i­tal to Kingston. With sugar cane pro­duc­tion on the de­cline in the parish, Greene said the chal­lenge is to find al­ter­na­tive agri­cul­tural pro­duce that can grow in the St Thomas en­vi­ron­ment. High­light­ing what he said was a vi­brant min­ing in­dus­try in the parish, Greene said truck­ers were now haul­ing lime­stone for ex­port in east­ern St Thomas. “We have med­i­cal-grade lime­stone in St Thomas, so I sup­pose that that is an at­trac­tion,” he added. De­spite the flurry of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity that takes place in the area of min­ing in St Thomas, the sec­re­tary man­ager in­di­cated that it ap­pears that not much of the money gen­er­ated from the busi­ness stayed in the parish. Con­ced­ing that the trucks that carry ag­gre­gate in the parish con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the dam­age done to the roads, Greene said he had made a rec­om­men­da­tion that a cess be levied on the op­er­a­tors of th­ese ve­hi­cles for the pur­pose of main­tain­ing the road­ways. Greene said he first made the sug­ges­tion while he was town clerk at the Kingston and St An­drew Cor­po­ra­tion and has re­it­er­ated the idea at the St Thomas Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion. How­ever, he said to date, there has been no in­di­ca­tion from pol­i­cy­mak­ers that this rev­enue-earn­ing pro­posal would be pur­sued.

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