Friday, February 18, 2011

Downtown turnaround project in final stage

By GENEA NOEL

Freeport,GRAND BAHAMA- Officials of the Downtown Turnaround initiative, conducted by the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), are preparing for the third and final phase of the project with hopes that when completed, it will spur economic activity back to the area.

According to GBPA Envi-ronmental Manager, Nakira Wilchcombe, the final stage of the project will be focused primarily on the Churchill square area to create an outdoor venue for the downtown community.

"We want to upgrade a lot of the landscaping. Currently, it is an open space that is unused, so we would like to really improve amenities as far as trash receptacles, landscaping, some degree of seating and make it an atmosphere where persons that patronize the downtown stores, as well as work in the downtown community can utilize that space," Wilchcombe said, adding that once renovated the area can be used as a venue for events in the future.

She said that they are also continuing to call on business owners in the downtown area to make improvements to their stores and buildings.

She noted that during the entire process the response from business owners and those that frequent downtown has been a positive one.

"We call on the public to do their part in keeping the general environment clean and just respecting some of the changes that have been done.

Wilchcombe said that the improvements to the downtown center will hopefully serve as another improved area that tourists and locals can visit.

"It is our desire to ensure that the area looks and feels good. We want to encourage persons to come into the downtown area and enjoy it and to also support the business there."

Similarly, members of the International Bazaar worked to improve the esthetics of the area that became a "ghost town" following the hurricanes of 2004 and 2005.

Along with incentives offered by the GBPA business is reportedly thriving and businesses in the downtown area are looking forward to the same success.

Any improvements in the general area, Wilchcombe said, whether it be Freeport or Lucaya or anywhere else, will be a bonus for the island.

The three-phase plan for the downtown area, which began on April 1,2009 includes a full-scale clean-up of the area, the introduction of new landscaping, signage, benches, lighting and other esthetically-pleasing features.

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