As the new mayor of Lucea in Hanover continues his drive to improve the environment of the north coast town, a major beautification project involving four government agencies and the Hanover Parish Council is shortly to get underway. Following a walking tour of today, Minister McNeill said on passing through the town recently he was disappointed. Lucea is the only parish capital between the resort towns of Montego Bay and Negril. According to the Tourism Minister, “When you consider that possible in excess of 200,000 visitors pass through here as well as the people who live in the town, it really is unacceptable.” He consequently communicated his thoughts with Member of Parliament Ian Hayles and Mayor Wynter McIntosh “and we determined that we were going to come and take a look at it because it cannot remain in the way it is.” Agencies represented on the extensive tour included the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the National Works Agency (NWA), National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA), the Hanover Parish Council and Lucea Development Initiative. While recognizing that there are some reasons for the town‘s shabby appearance, a major one being the $1.2 billion pipe laying work by the NWC, Minister McNeill said “how it was going to be fixed up is not enough so we are going to come in with the TEF to give some assistance so the road can be done properly.” Issues with drains and sidewalks will also be addressed and something done to improve landscaping and the beauty of the town. That will include erecting signage at strategic locations, upgrading Look Out Park and creating a rest stop where people can sit and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Lucea Harbour. The main thoroughfare, Seaview Drive, will be rehabilitated with a pedestrian walk linking into a Bailey bridge to be erected at adjacent to the existing Johnson Town Bridge. Its two-fold purpose is to enable the large water mains to be laid and provide a safe path for pedestrians. The old stone bridge is to be repaired. Minister McNeill insisted that serious attention be given to the cleanliness and beauty of the town, noting that its aesthetic assets were being squandered. “The technical teams are going to do some work and at the end of it, we are going to see if we can get this up to a standard that we would be proud of,” he said. The Tourism Minister and his team also visited the historic Fort Charlotte which has been falling into a state of ruin. “If we do not fix it up now every day it loses something to the elements. We are going to be working with the parish council to do some work to protect it and get it back into the condition that it should be,” he said. To ensure it does not degrade any further, he said that work should start now. “They have a proposal on the table and we are going to see how we can do a phased restoration of it. In effect what we are doing is the same way we have done transformative programmes in Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Negril we are looking to see what can be done for Lucea,” he stated. The plan outlined by Minister McNeill has been endorsed by MP Hayles and Mayor McIntosh. MP Hayles estimated that “this town is going to need over a billion dollars.” He stated, “Just take a look at the town, it’s going to take a lot of money but I am happy to see that the Minister is here and he has made commitments and we have work to do and we are going to follow through on the commitments and ensure that we can have something good going forward.” For his part, Mayor McIntosh also expressed appreciation for the intervention by Minister McNeill and said he would be rallying the business community and the people of Lucea to play their part in cleaning up the town. “A lot of the buildings are in a dilapidated state and we must improve the status of Lucea,” he declared. He said Minister McNeil had asked for estimates to put in a proper drainage system and for a maintenance team to be assigned to avoid a recurrence of the ugly scenes that have built up with blocked drains and stagnant water throughout the town.