Golding: I had plans for No Man’s Land - MP wants mixed use of space to facilitate police HQ, other projects
The announcement that a new police headquarters is to be built in No Man’s Land in South St Andrew has been well received by many residents and civic and business leaders, but the news stumped Member of Parliament Mark Golding.
Speaking to The Gleaner yesterday, Golding said that while he is not opposed to the move, he was taken aback by the announcement as he had been putting plans in place to kick-start other infrastructural development on the same land. He suggested that the proposed HQ form part of a broader developmental plan to include housing.
Golding said that National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang announced the planned relocation of the police HQ in Parliament last month without consulting with the communities surrounding No Man’s Land or with him as the member of parliament for the area.
“From what I gather, what is planned is very substantial usage of those lands, which make up a large chunk of land available for development in the constituency. They have been the subject of a lot of thought and discussion, and there should be consultation with the community to discuss how they feel about the proposal.”
Golding continued: “There ought to be a land-use plan developed. I know that there is at least one private developer who wants to do affordable housing in that space. That person requires 16 acres, and I was planning to move forward with that developer to sort out land-ownership issues because a lot of the land is privately owned.”
Other than housing, Golding said there is a pressing need to generate employment and economic activities in surrounding communities, including Trench Town, Wilton Gardens (Rema), Denham Town, and Jones and Craig Town.
“We are near the port of Kingston, so the logistics hub development the country is pursuing presents opportunities for a special economic zone. This could include business and knowledge-process outsourcing. We have the HEART Academy and the Trench Town Polytechnic, which produce students who need employment. Government’s security plans could be a part of that mix.”
Trench Town senior citizen Lavern Vernon also believes that more could be added to the mix but is elated about plans to relocate the police HQ near to her home.
“The violence gone out a hand. First-time, gunman nah kill woman like nowadays. Nowadays, you have the young bloods dying to make a duppy. I feel wonderful about the headquarters. The next thing is to build school and house because a nuff land down yah. Send some factory come, too,” she told The Gleaner.
Vernon’s neighbour, ‘Mama Joy’, also welcomes the plan.
“Di gunshots would cool off. Dem nah go know seh commissioner’s office deh right deh suh and fire shot. Dem affi go respect the commissioner,” she said.
“This hole right here,” she said, pointing to an indentation in a wall outside her gate, “is a gunshot hole. If mi did sidung out here, me woulda get it.”
During his Sectoral Debate presentation in Parliament last month, Chang announced that the first built-for-purpose police headquarters would be constructed on 40 acres in No Man’s Land, replacing the current headquarters located on Old Hope Road in St Andrew. The relocation would result in millions in savings in rental annually as well as bring a sense of calm to neighbouring communities and downtown Kingston, which, for years, has been plagued by gang violence.