$18m to remove 'ugliness' from Barrett Town
Amid the violence and other social ills rocking the Barrett Town community in St James, Member of Parliament (MP) Edmund Bartlett is welcoming an $18-million project to replace zinc fences in the area.
He said that the project, which is being undertaken by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), will help to remove what he calls the infectious ugliness in the area.
"If you have an ugly surrounding, then it breeds an ugly lifestyle, and behaviour will subsequently be ugly. So it's a part of changing the physical look, changing the mindset, and changing the outlook," Bartlett told THE STAR.
The MP admits that the area has had some challenges, especially with the recent upsurge of violence in the community, but he believes that the zinc fence- removal project will greatly assist.
"The overall concept is creating new boundaries, which allows us to have a more physically pleasing surroundings. It also would create better security within the community and give people a sense of place and a sense of pride," Bartlett said.
The police is also welcoming the initiative in the area. Superintendent Stephanie Lindsey, in charge of the constabulary force's communications unit, said that zinc fences are very difficult to police.
"For the most part, where you have all those zinc fences, those are unstructured communities, with no addresses. There are no main gates in some instances, so it's just one address for one big yard," Lindsey said.
She added, "With the level of firearms being used, the police are far more vulnerable behind a zinc fence because they don't know who is behind the zinc fence firing at them. Once you have the environment in such a way that you have individuals with gates, then police response could be improved."
The zinc fence-removal project is part of a wider programme by the JSIF being undertaken in the community.
Bartlett said that $300 million would be spent over the next three to four years to tackle infrastructure work, drainage cleaning, training and capacity building within the community, and economic enablement.
Other communities to benefit from the zinc fence-removal project include Hannah Town, Denham Town, Rose Town, Greenwich Town, Maxfield Park in Kingston and St Andrew; Canaan Heights and York Town in Clarendon; Steer Town in St Ann; Granville in St James; and Russia in Westmoreland.