Thu | Apr 2, 2020

10 development plans later, residents sceptical of Port Royal revival

Published:Friday | November 29, 2019 | 12:30 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter
Heather Pinnock
Heather Pinnock

Increased economic opportunities, upgraded infrastructure, and improved technology are just some of the benefits sceptical residents of Port Royal can look forward to under the latest plan crafted by the Government for the development of the historic seaside town.

Under the plan, dubbed Port Royal2020, residents of Port Royal are expected to see dramatic improvements in their housing stock, water system, roadways and drainage network, as well as the installation of fibre-optic cables.

According to Heather Pinnock, general manager of the government-owned Urban Development Corporation (UDC), the installation of fibre-optic cables will bring closed-circuit television and Internet access to the community.

“We intend for Port Royal to be safe, smart, and secure. A big part of that is having the technology to support that,” said Pinnock.

The UDC was one of several government agencies represented at a town hall-style meeting held in Port Royal on Wednesday to share glimpses of the plan with residents.This comes nearly eight weeks before the scheduled arrival of the first cruise ship at the new pier being constructed in the mainly fishing community.

But like other residents, Lorraine Dobson, councillor for the Springfield division of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, who has lived in the community for decades, embraced the plan but could not hide her scepticism.

“I came close to many plans [for the development of Port Royal]. I can name some of the plans as I stand here … . I know they have tried many times,” Dobson said.

FUTURE OF FISHING

Other residents wanted to hear of plans to improve security and how their thriving fishing industry would fit into the development plan.

Pinnock acknowledged that a search of the UDC has turned up some 10 development plans for Port Royal – including three by Oliver Cox – which were drafted between 1964 and 2009 but indicated that the latest document was informed by all its predecessors.

“These are all the plans we went through to see what information is there, what ideas are already there, and to determine how we can make the best product now,” she said.

Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams also sought to assure residents that their concerns would be taken into account. “No decision will be taken without agonising over all the concerns. That’s the spirit with which we will approach Port Royal,” Williams said.

Noting that housing has been cited as one of the main concerns, the UDC boss revealed that a survey has already been conducted of the existing stock to determine the level of demand.

Pinnock said that the planned development would provide “lots of economic activities” for the creation or expansion of small, medium-size and large businesses in areas that will emerge as the revival takes shape.

“That involves looking at what will happen at the ports, which is the large investment, and everything from shops and restaurants that will happen in Port Royal,” the UDC general manager said.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com