Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Do not leave us out! - Allman Town residents appeal to Stewart's Auto Group to include them in construction operations in the community

Published:Saturday | January 12, 2019 | 12:57 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Calvin McLaughlin, resident of Allman Town in Kingston.
Andre Hamilton
Roshane Vidal
Vehicles on the lot at Stewart's Automotive Group's new bonded warehouse on Arnold Road in Kingston.
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Although the residents of Allman Town in Kingston are happy that their community has received a facelift, due to the newly opened Stewart’s Automotive Group’s bonded warehouse in the area, they are asking that they be properly included in the plans for future development.

They claim they had very little, to no prior knowledge that the entity would set up a warehouse in their community and would be giving employment to persons via an application process.

Managing Director of Stewart’s Auto Sales, Duncan Stewart, told The Gleaner on Monday during the opening of the warehouse, that some of the residents participated in the building of the facilities and explained that the community would be included in future projects.

However, when The Gleaner visited the community on Wednesday, the residents expressed mixed views, some claiming that very few members from the area were part of the project.

“This can be real beneficial for the youths, because generally, not a lot of work is provided for the youths. I am not really interested in the automotive field because I do strictly graphic designing. However, they (Stewart’s Auto) need to find an effective solution to reach out to the people to let them know what is available to them,” shared 20-year-old Roshane Vidal.

“Some of the youths in the community go to HEART and do body work and so on. Some of them do sales.”

VERY FEW JUMPED ON THE OPPORTUNITY

One individual, who wished not to give his name, said he played the role of a contractor during the building phase of the warehouse.

He explained that there was an application process for community members to follow, but very few jumped on the opportunity.

“The application was open, but very few took it up. This place is lacking quite a few things and this might just bring a change. Prospect is here. This will create much more employment for the youngsters but there is much more for them to achieve. All they have to do is go back to school to get a bit more knowledge,” he said.  

A fellow resident was in support of the claim that a lack of “headspace” caused the failure of persons to complete and submit application forms, despite collecting them. He also opted out of being named in this story.

“Nobody nah employ you if you nuh have nuh headspace. The community is kind of deficient like that. Most of us are lay people and can hardly help ourselves so maybe that’s why so many of the applications were not submitted,” he reasoned.

According to another resident, Calvin McLaughlin, “All I know about the warehouse is that some cars are parked over there and we heard that it would be Stewart’s. Despite that, we see it as a form of development. We have couple good mechanics and so on that can benefit them. Somewhere down the line, we want them to invest in a homework centre for the children in the community.”

COMMITTED TO CONTINUING THIS TRADITION

In response, Stewart told The Gleaner yesterday that throughout the 80 years that the Stewart's family has been in business, which started out as a small garage on Hanover Street in downtown Kingston, it has built a legacy of engaging and supporting communities where it operates and "we are committed to continuing this tradition". 

"In constructing our bonded warehouse on Arnold Road, we were happy to have engaged the services of two local contractors, Mr Ralford Campbell, whose business is across the street from the warehouse and who is a respected businessman in the community. We also engaged the services of Norman Winter (Spider) who is also well known and someone the community looks up to,” said Stewart.

“Both contractors hired between 24 and 30 men from the community to complete the warehouse. We have other business venture plans in the pipeline, which will be announced in due time. We will provide even more opportunities for community members." 

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com