Leeroy Williams takes the reins in SJMCby HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Declaring that he has “no intention of reinventing the wheel”, new mayor of Montego Bay, and chairman of the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC), Councillor Leeroy Williams has vowed to continue the outstanding work of his predecessor Homer Davis.
According to Williams, among his priorities is the sale of the Bogue lands, the proceeds from which, he said, will be used to construct an arcade for small vendors in Montego Bay, St James.
“I have no grandiose or unachievable plan to announce, neither do I intend to reinvent the wheel. But let me say to the councillors, the staff of the St James Municipal Corporation and the citizens of Montego Bay that the sale of the Bogue lands is high on the agenda because from these proceeds we intend to build a modern arcade on the site of the old Shoes Market for small vendors,” said Williams.
“It is indeed a wonderful feeling for me, a little boy from the farming community of Kendal in Hanover, who has risen to the position of being the first citizen of this wonderful city, to be asked to lead Jamaica's best group of councillors. I must pay great respect to the man who I am succeeding, former mayor, Homer Edward Davis,” said Williams who is the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)councillor for the Montego Bay North Division.
He declared that it will be a hard task to fill the void left by his predecessor.
During his address at a special meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation yesterday at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in the historic Sam Sharpe Square, Davis, who passed the baton to Williams, argued that he has achieved most of what he set out to accomplish during his tenure as chairman of the SJMC.
But Davis listed the sale of a parcel of land at Bogue Industrial Estate and “the building of the vendors arcade for the vendors of the city of Montego Bay”, among some unsettled matters.
“I can say that our position on the Bogue lands is well advanced. Ì am hoping that in the not distant future we can reach a point where we can enter into sales agreement with all the occupiers of the Bogue lands,” Davis said who is the Member of Parliament (MP)-elect for St James Southern.
The parcel of land at the Bogue Industrial Estate, which is owned by the SJMC, is occupied by squatters who carry out commercial activities on the property. The commercial squatters occupy 26 lots on the prime property.
The municipal corporation has indicated that it is in possession of the titles for the Bogue lands, which the occupiers say they are now prepared to buy.
In the meantime, Williams, who bemoaned the perennial traffic congestion in the city of Montego Bay, also announced plans to construct a multi-story car park in the city.
“It is also our intention to acquire a piece of land adjoining the municipal corporation to build a multistorey car park. Traffic congestion is a big problem in Montego Bay and such facility I am sure will help to mitigate that problem,” he said.
During yesterday's special meeting, Jamaica Labour Party councillor for Montego Bay South, Richard Vernon, was voted in as Williams' deputy.
Davis succeeded on his third attempt at the polls to become a legislator, having suffered backto-back losses in 2011 and 2016 to Derrick Kellier in the constituency. His win broke a 31-year stranglehold on the constituency by the People's National Party.
He reflected that back in 2007 when he was elected as the JLP councillor for the Cambridge Division, he did not have any ambition to be elevated to the positions of either mayor or MP.
According to Davis, during his time as councillor he has seen where the respect for the corporation took several hits and it was viewed in a negative light.
“And as such I thought it fit to attempt a rescue mission,” said Davis.
“Today [yesterday], I can proudly say mission accomplished. After 13 years as councillor and four as mayor, I have enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with every councillor, even if we are on the opposite side.
“I also embarked on a mission to build back the respect, credibility and integrity of the St James Municipal Corporation,” declared Davis.