Port Maria residents confident Gov't will deliver on promiseFriday, September 24, 2021
BY HORACE MILLS
PORT MARIA, St Mary — Although their patience is starting to wear thin, residents in this town are expressing confidence that the Government will deliver on its promise to build a new police facility here in the parish capital.
Since the project was first announced three years ago, there have been two ground-breaking ceremonies. Promises that construction works would have commenced also have fallen through.
In its latest update the Ministry of National Security explained that due to issues with the soil quality, a two-storey facility will be built instead of four. A new building plan reflecting the change will be submitted to the St Mary Municipal Corporation for approval, the ministry added.
Its communications advisor and consultant, Paul Clarke, has given an assurance that the building will not be smaller despite changes to the design.
Most residents who spoke with the Jamaica Observer have argued that, despite the delay, their hope is being fuelled by a pattern of development taking place in Port Maria under the current Government. They noted that a new market has been built, Claude Stuart Park has been rehabilitated, and a brand new fire station is under construction.
“I am 53 years old and living in Port Maria all along, and I live to see a new market and a new fire station under this Government. So I believe the police station is just a matter of time,” said Garfield Brown, alias ''Nose'', who operates a bar beside the proposed site for the new multi-purpose police facility.
His confidence, he said, is bolstered by the fact that the National Housing Trust (NHT) is the main funder of the project.
“I believe National Housing Trust have more money than any entity in Jamaica, and so they will carry the project right through,” he opined.
The proposed location for the facility is along Main Street — across from the beach, where a wharf once stood. That is the main reason residents are quick to accept the Government's explanation that the current delay is fundamentally due to 'geotechnical findings'.
“I see buildings go up to two floor in Port Maria without any problem, but I don't know about the four storey,” Roland ''Gilly'' McDonald said, while using a piece of bamboo to shovel up a portion of the soft black soil near the site. He posited that water will start appearing if one should dig a few feet below earth surface.
His view is similar to that of another resident, Dion Creightney, better known as ''Suzie'', who noted that she was born and raised in the area.
“Most of Port Maria is dump land because the sea was further in on land, but they dump it up,” she told the Observer. “Pertaining to what they say about the land, that is no lie. I don't think a four-storey building could really erect on a land like that, unless they would have to do proper dumping to get the land firm.”
Another resident, Suzette Bennett, reasoned that, although she supports the idea of the Port Maria police having a permanent base, she does not think the land chosen for the construction is large and good enough.
“I believe that the police station should get a bigger space,” she commented. “As it regards the sea [being so close to the site], I don't think it is a wise idea to build it (the police station) there. They will want more space definitely.”
The previous police station was destroyed by fire years ago, and so officers in the town now operate from a private building.
The proposed facility will not only house the new Port Maria Police Station, but also the Area Two Police Headquarters, and the St Mary Divisional Headquarters.
A young resident of St Mary, Rajae Thomas, relishes the idea of having the police operate from a single Government-owned building.
“If they have a place for themselves instead of having to rent place, that would be better,” he said.
''Gilly'' McDonald argued that an established police location in Port Maria would boost confidence in policing and also inspire a sense of pride in the town. “More youth would look up to the station and want to be in it working one day,” he added.