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Falmouth residents say town not benefiting enough from investments, as it marks 250 years

Observer West reporter

Thursday, February 13, 2020

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — As the Georgian town of Falmouth marks its 250 years of existence, several stakeholders are complaining that while there have been investments in the town in recent years, the majority of residents are not benefiting.

Respected banker Winston Tomlinson is among those positing the view that while Falmouth is now returning to the glory days of the colonial era, the majority of the town's people are not benefiting from the emerging economic boom.

“From my standpoint, it is clear that there are some efforts being made to expand the town, but it is since less than 10 years you see that happening. But it is not legacy passing down [as] most of the people benefiting from the opportunities now are not Falmouthians. If you go to the housing areas, most of the people are not from Falmouth they are migrants,” Tomlinson said.

A tour bus operator, who gave his name as Benny, agreed.

He said a number of “outside bus operators” have descended on the town in recent years and are depriving them of work.

“It hard for us Trelawny people to get work at the pier to carry tourists because you have operators from Ochi Rios, Montego Bay, and as far as Negril taking the work,” he complained.

The outspoken Dennis Seivwright, a former president of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce and Industry, argued while the town has come a long way in recent history, there is still need for infrastructural development.

“We have come a long way in terms of influx of businesses, particularly with Chinese investments. But I am disappointed that we are not doing enough about our defunct infrastructure for the improvement of the town of Falmouth,” he said.

“Two hundred and fifty years ago in Falmouth it was donkey cart, and now we don't have space for motor vehicles. It says a lot, but we need to look at our infrastructure in a serious way,” said Seivwright.

For Derrick Scott, a Falmouth native who resides in the diaspora, “Falmouth has developed over the past 50 years”.

“The town has seen major developments the two major developments being the port and the artisan village now under construction but apart from that, not much has changed. A major concern is that they destroyed the fountain, and the history is there, because Falmouth had running water before New York. You don't destroy your history, you save your history; look at Sam Sharpe Square. When Mr Seaga [former prime minister] was fixing Sam Sharpe Square they never destroyed the fountain, they built around it, and it is still there,” Scott argued.

A raft of planned activities to mark the year-long celebration of the 250th anniversary of the historic town was announced during a media launch last week.

The activities will be spearheaded by the Trelawny Municipal Corporation (TMC), in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

And if the first major celebratory event, which took place in the historic Water Square on Saturday where hundreds of people gathered for the Children of Icons and Emerging Artistes in Concert is anything to go by, then the celebrations will enjoy a strong buy-in from the public. The concert was part of activities marking Reggae Month, which was incorporated into the 250th anniversary celebrations.

During the media launch, held at the TMC Municipal building prior to the start of the concert on Saturday, Falmouth Mayor Councillor C Junior Gager revealed that the calender of the events will continue on Sunday, March 1, with the 250th anniversary church service, to Tuesday, December 29.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange said that Falmouth, noted for its Georgian architecture, was created back in the 18th century, and through the vision of leaders back then, the town boasted “piped water long before New York City”.

The town now has one of the leading cruise shipping ports in the Caribbean, and Grange has indicated her intention to use her ministry to “provide Falmouth with an added boost of life, excitement and energy”.

“My ministry stands ready to engage with the town to ensure that its status as a heritage-based town and attraction is sustained through its development as a tourism destination, bringing cruise ships and other tourists to the island. The combination of Georgian architecture with culture and entertainment presents a unique destination with all the trappings of economic growth and development through opportunities for income generation for the people of Falmouth and its surroundings, and revenue enhancement for the municipality and Jamaica,” Grange was quoted as saying in a statement read at the launch by Mexine Bissasor, who chairs the board of the Jamaica Cultural Development Corporation.

“By way of this focus, Falmouth can challenge the likes of New Orleans as a heritage and culture destination because of the likelihood established through our collaboration of visitors experiencing a wide repertoire of authentic Jamaican culture and entertainment.”

Gager, in the meantime, urged members of the diaspora to become actively engaged in the year-long celebrations.

“The 250-year history of the town is too important not to be highlighted. We are doing everything to make these celebrations as fun-filled as possible for members of the entire parish,” Gager told the Observer West.

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