The $15 million Phase 1 Ariapita Avenue Enhancement Project is on its way as the Government tries to make “De Avenue” in Woodbrook a premier economic and leisure zone in the city of Port-of-Spain and the region with work already started on the police post at Adam Smith Square.
On the construction of a police post on the Avenue, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez noted that tourism and safety go hand-in-hand.
“If you want to be safe we have to have the police presence close by. A lot of people are critical of everything you try to do although I think people will welcome the extra security for the area. It will be municipal police which is city police. It will be a mixture of officers from the TTPS who will join us. We need to grow from where we are and we need to develop and we want to develop with the people,” Martinez explained.
Noting that one of the major concerns in the country remains crime, the mayor said while “no body want a police post, every body wants crime to be solved.”
According to the Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell UDeCOTT prepared a budget of $15,187,500, VAT inclusive for Phase One of the project.
Phase One will incorporate west/east arches, development of textured sidewalks, greenery/landscaping, shuttle stops, cycle track, decorative garbage bins, signage, electronic bollards, police post, public washrooms, street lighting and accessories.
Phase Two will see a west/east car park being constructed.
As part of the concept, it was proposed that arches will be used as thresholds to mark the entry/exit at both ends of Ariapita Avenue.
They will also serve as landmarks to brand the area as a premier entertainment zone.
These two arches will fuse Woodbrook’s historic and rich architectural heritage with its diverse cultural assets through local motifs and iconography.
According to the Tourism Ministry local landmarks in the form of arches serve as recognisable and indelible icons and are important in the branding and marketing of the destination.
Mitchell said upon successful delivery of the enhancement works, it is anticipated that Ariapita Avenue will be transformed into a major tourist attraction, where visitors can experience Trinidad and Tobago’s authentic tourism offerings through food, nightlife, culture and entertainment.
He added that it is also envisaged that a significant positive economic impact will flow from this transformation with increased economic activity in the area.
“The enhancement would also create a more organised use of the space with common understanding between private and public stakeholders and the immediate community,” the Tourism Minister said.
Udecott’s senior architect Marlon Charles who had presented the preliminary conceptual design said phase two would target infrastructural development—mainly construction of two four-storey car parks located west of De Avenue, close to Belle Smythe Street and east near Colville Street.
These car parks will accommodate 800 vehicles and will facilitate the use of shuttles in a park and ride system.
The ground floor of the car parks will house retail shops.
Regarding other plans to upgrade the city Martinez said work is currently taking place at Memorial Park especially as the President of Guyana and Jamaica’s Prime Minister are expected to arrive in T&T at the end of August to attend this country’s Independence Day celebrations.
And in September a letter of intent will be signed signalling the twinning of Port-of-Spain with Shanghai.
The initiative is expected to further develop culture, commerce education.
Additionally, Martinez said there’s a plans for Pan Theatre for the Desperadoes Steel Orchestra located at Nelson and George Streets, Port-of-Spain with the sod already being turned by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
There are also plans to incorporate a “Walk of Fame” into the city, celebrating icons from various spheres and this will be similar to that of the Los Angeles Walk of Fame.
“We want to make the city more walkable.We want to create ambient music on the promenade. A lot of these things are already in motion and is at the point where execution will hopefully begin soon.
“The ambient music is really to build the pride and joy of our citizens. We can take some things from others countries which have been successful,” Martinez added.
And ultimately, he said he would like to see Carnival characters walking throughout the parks and squares so people can understand where traditional mas came from .
“We have to start doing something for our people. We have the Brian Lara Promenade and we want to put up a sign there because there’s no sign that says Brian Lara,” the mayor added.
But the city is also faced with negative elements such as homelessness, filthy streets, poor roads and indiscriminate parking.
Martinez asured these issues will be addressed.
“We are hoping to do something about the homeless because they are continuing to defecate, they are continuing to leave mess all over the place and they are distressing the natural population,” he said.
There is also the question of the poor road infrastructure in the capital city, Martinez said “WASA at times, digging up the roads” because the infrastructure underneath is also poor that has caused the problem. But he noted WASA also has its own challenges which are being addressing.
According to Martinez, material to fix potholes can be challenging.
“We need material. The coal mix does not work and the hot mix, you have to go all the way in south to get it and it must be administered the same day because it will get hard and it will be a waste. So we have to time it and when you’re timing things like this it is not so easy when you have to deal with workers who are sometimes set in their programmes. And then too we don’t always have the support we would like to get from our engineering division. We have some officers who work hard and some who need to pull their weight,” Martinez explained.