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Land reserved but no immediate plans for a fire station in Hopewell, Hanover

Published:Saturday | March 25, 2023 | 12:44 AMBryan Miller/Hanover Correspondent

Western Bureau:

There are now fears in official circles that a parcel of land in the Orchard Housing Scheme in Hopewell, Hanover, which was earmarked for the construction of a fire station, could become the target of squatters if it remains unused, based on current trends in that town.

Over recent years, squatters have been targeting idle lands in Hopewell, inclusive of prime seafront properties, much to the chagrin of the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC), which has been vigilant in its efforts to discourage that practice.

During the most recent meeting of the HMC, councillors expressed concerns that, if the lands remain unutilised squatters may begin to occupy them.

“If you do not use it, you may lose it,” Lucea’s Mayor Sheridan Samuels jokingly told Superintendent Raymond DeSouza, who heads the Hanover division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) Hanover Division, during the meeting.

While tabling his monthly report, DeSouza pointed out that the space now occupied by that service in the parish capital, Lucea, is fast becoming woefully inadequate, pointing to the need to expand its operation to another location. The divisional headquarters in Lucea is the only fire station in the parish of Hanover. It sometimes is forced to seek assistance from St James and Westmoreland.

During the construction of the Orchard Housing Scheme in the 1970s, the National Housing Trust (NHT) reserved lands for a school, a library, a church, and a fire station. The school and church were established but the lands for the library and fire station remain unused.

The continued absence of the fire station has been a big concern to residents of Hopewell and adjoining communities, who recognise the need for a fire service in emergency situations. Additionally, the unkempt condition of the property makes it attractive for criminal activities.

“Whenever there is a fire in these sections of the parish, the fire service coming from Lucea can only come to do cooling-down operations. They have not helped in saving anyone or anything over the years, because of the time they take to reach in these parts,” a resident of Hopewell told The Gleaner.

When contacted about the status of the plans for the fire station in Hopewell, Emilio Ebanks, the public relations officer for the JFB, said he was unclear about the plans for the fire station.

“I did speak with the commissioner (Stewart Beckford), and he said that he is going to speak with the mayor of Lucea. That’s about it,” said Ebanks.