Gov't assures new St Mary police station won't be smaller than plannedFriday, September 24, 2021
BY HORACE MILLS
PORT MARIA, St Mary — The Ministry of National Security has given assurance that the new police facility being planned for this seaside town will not be downsized, despite major changes to the proposed design.
Citing problems with the soil at the site along Main Street, the ministry disclosed that the Government now intends to build a two-storey structure instead of the four-storeys initially planned.
“... It just won't have the height. So, it will be spread over more land area,” communications advisor and consultant to the ministry Paul Clarke told the Jamaica Observer.
His comments came after his written project update which partly explains the reason for the protracted delay in commencing construction of the facility.
When our news team visited the location on Monday the property, previously cleared and marked out to facilitate construction works, had become overgrown with shrubs. A small portion is being used as a parking lot.
The proposed building is intended to become home to the Area Two Police Headquarters and the St Mary Divisional Headquarters. It will also house the new Port Maria Police Station as the previous location was damaged by fire several years ago, resulting in police occupying different buildings.
The plan to construct a new multi-purpose facility is grounded in a memorandum of understanding that was signed between the security ministry and National Housing Trust (NHT) in 2018.
In March of that same year, then Security Minister Robert Montague broke ground for construction of the building.
However, he was moved to another ministerial role and Dr Horace Chang assumed the national security portfolio.
“It was discovered that the land [for the proposed building] would not be adequate to include the requisite parking spaces. Consequently, Minister Chang recommended the acquisition of the adjoining property to facilitate the implementation of the project,” the security ministry explained.
Following the land acquisition, Dr Chang broke ground for the same project during a ceremony held on February 7, 2020.
On that occasion, he also announced the commencement of works for the project.
“However, subsequent geotechnical analysis carried out at the site revealed that the designed foundation was not suitable for the proposed structure,” the security ministry said. “In light of the geotechnical findings, there was a recommendation for a change in foundation design. It is to be noted that the foundation redesign, to accommodate the original four-storey building, would have resulted in a significant escalation on the original budget.”
In light of that, alternative construction options were explored and a new decision made.
“The decision was taken to proceed with a redesign of the building to accommodate a larger surface area,” the ministry said. “To date, the surveys have been completed and the drawings are being adjusted based on the new concept. The next steps would involve a resubmission to the [St Mary] Municipal Corporation to gain approval for the drawings, which is anticipated within this financial year 2021/2022.”
The project, in the meantime, is to be executed by the NHT and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Port Maria was chosen for a new police station based on its location to Frontier Housing Scheme, which is an NHT project.