Wednesday 17 July, 2019

Occupants of Garvey's boyhood home to receive houses, cash

Marcus Garvey's childhood home.

Marcus Garvey's childhood home.

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, has moved to clear the air on how occupants of the St Ann property that was the boyhood home of National Hero Marcus Garvey will be compensated.

This follows her announcement on Friday that the government had decided to exercise its compulsory acquisition option to take possession of the property which is located at 32 Market Street in St Ann’s Bay for purposes of establishing a living history museum to honour the country’s first national hero.

Grange has revealed that the occupants of the property will receive houses as well as cash.

“I assure the families there, and the rest of Jamaica, that we will not be moving them off the property and leaving them without making other arrangements for them to live in a comfortable way,’ said Grange in a statement on Monday.

The minister also revealed that the Government has been proposing alternative accommodations to the occupants since 2011 when the former Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, broke ground for the construction of the living history museum.

She explained that in 2011 a valuation was done on the property, and based on that valuation funds were identified [to purchase the property].

“At that time there were no owners. Subsequently, persons were able to get their names on the title - those are the individuals who have been living there.

“We have offered [the occupants] other accommodations.  We have worked with the Housing Agency of Jamaica to identify, on more than one occasion, accommodation for them.  Persons living there have made demands and we have not considered some of those demands to be reasonable,” said Grange.

She pointed out that the compulsory acquisition of the property follows years of negotiation with the occupants to clear the way for the project which has been stalled since 2011.

“We will relocate the families; and we will work with them to ensure that where they are relocated to, they will be comfortable.  But it cannot continue like this; we must act,” said the Culture Minister who added that “the house is deteriorating, the conditions are not good, and it is bad for the image of Marcus Garvey and Jamaica to have the property deteriorate [instead of moving to start the development].”

Minister Grange said she had been working with the Member of Parliament for North East St. Ann, Shahine Robinson, to find a suitable solution:

“The MP has identified two properties -  a three bedroom and a two bedroom - and so will be making the offer [of the two properties] to the families.  So they will be getting properties in exchange [for the Garvey home] and also the funds that have been set aside to pay for Garvey’s boyhood home.  

“I think we’re being more than reasonable.”

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