The Port Maria Civic Centre, St Mary is returning to its full glory as the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) continues its work to restore and refurbish that historic facility. Significant work has been completed on the main building while work is currently in progress on the amphitheatre, sanitary facilities and seating area.
At completion, the project will see new and restored facilities for a mayor’s office, council chambers, retail shops, restaurants, craft museum and commercial shops. The project is being carried out with financing from the Bank of Economic and Social Development (BANDES) of Venezuela in partnership with the Government of Jamaica under the San Jose Accord. The contractors are Racar Ingeniros C. A from Venezuela. The contract to facilitate the upgrading and bring the centre into full operation was signed in 2008 for approximately US$2.5M.
Phase 1 of the Port Maria Civic Centre restoration project started in 1998 when the old burnt out shell was replaced by a town hall, an interpretive museum and auxiliary office at a cost of J51M. The facility is managed by the Manning Trust.
The UDC has also completed work on similar facilities through the San Jose Accord which is an agreement signed originally in the Costa Rican capital city of San Jose on August 3, 1980 between the oil producing countries of Venezuela and Mexico and several non-oil producing countries in the region.
Under the Accord, Venezuela and Mexico sell oil to these countries in the region, including Jamaica and provide a portion of the proceeds of sales to them as a loan for development projects. Jamaica has utilized these funds to finance a Sports and Cultural Programme, which includes the civic centres at Montego Bay and Port Maria, multi-media centre at Edna Manley College, Independence Park/National Stadium Complex, and Montego Bay Sports Complex.