KINGSTON, Jan. 8 (JIS): The $15 million memorial park currently being constructed at the site of the 1907 earthquake monument, in Greenwich Town, is expected to be a tourist attraction when completed.
This is the vision of the Government’s multi-agency team currently working on the project, which is intended to attract Jamaicans locally and in the Diaspora, who may have had relatives who died in the earthquake.
As with the monument, the park is in honour of the 500 persons who perished in the 1907 earthquake. The massive earthquake, and the fire it caused, destroyed sections of downtown Kingston.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who visited the site today (January 8), said she is pleased with the work that has been done so far, noting that the park is another fitting tribute to those who lost their lives.
“The work is a tribute to the memory of all those who died in the earthquake and were buried here. We feel it is important for us to really beautify the area and to do the work that was necessary on the monument in honour of those who were buried here,” she said.
The Prime Minister noted that the Government felt it was important to build the memorial park and bring attention to the monument, which has been restored, as many would not have known where the structure is located.
“I believe it is important for Jamaicans and (those) overseas to know that they could have members of their family buried right here, and if they wish, to come and to pay tribute to their fallen ones that were buried here,” she said.
This initial phase of the project, which is jointly funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, is expected to be ready in time for the anniversary of the earthquake on January 14, when an official opening ceremony will be held.
Chief Executive Officer of the CHASE Fund, Billy Heaven, told JIS News that he is satisfied with what has been achieved at the site, in terms of the renovation of the monument and the establishment of a park, “because it is not just a monument that we are rehabilitating, we are establishing a park, and that is important because people can come here…(and honour their loved ones).
Speaking to other plans for the park, Mr. Heaven said a list of names of some of the persons who died in the earthquake is to be placed on the wall of the park.
There are also plans to install benches, public facilities, as well as establish shops where memorabilia could be sold.
It is also intended that the park will be further extended to include all five acres of the property.
The other agencies involved in the project are the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Sports Development Foundation (SDF) and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT).