MELISSA DOUGHTY AND SHANE SUPERVILLE
PEOPLE CAN look forward to the pedestrianisation of Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain, soon.
The avenue will be closed to traffic and be only accessible to people at certain times, Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez told Newsday on Friday.
Martinez said this and other plans are some of the ways the city is moving along with its revitalisation plans.
He spoke with Newsday after the launch of the Commonwealth Garden at Wildflower Park, Serpentine Road, St Clair.
Last year the Prime Minister announced plans to revitalise the capital, including the development of Memorial Plaza, the Salvatori Building site and Piccadilly Street.
Martinez explained the pedestrianisation of Ariapita Avenue would probably take place in phases.
“We are going to create an area where it is going to allow a lot of people activity to take place,” he said.
Newsday spoke to Martinez again on Sunday who explained the initiative would take place in sections along the avenue to see how well the logistics would work for businesses and residents.
"It wouldn't be everyday. It will start off on a phased basis, beginning with a small part of the avenue, maybe for a weekend beginning from Friday afternoon and ending on Sunday afternoon.
"We'll be working out the logistics because there are a lot of considerations to be made as we go along."
Martinez said the rollout of the initiative should begin in the third quarter of the year which is from July 1 to September 30.
Martinez said work will also be done done on Lapeyrouse Cemetery to be able to “bring people back in.” He said a lot of TT’s history is there and it is a place that a lot of people visited quite often.
People don’t visit as much anymore, however, because of the dilapidated condition of the cemetery. Martinez said the city wants to revitalise the cemetery and make it a historical space where “we can invite tourists. We want to be able to put down lights and cameras and that sort of thing, beautify the whole landscape and allow people to look after their plots and rename it properly so people would see that when you walk through the cemetery it would be a sort of historical development at the same time.”
Martinez said this will take place this year. He did not say exactly when but added that the planning had already been done and it was just a matter of executing it.
He said work on the city’s revitalisation has already started as the TT Electricity Commission (T&TEC) had been asked over the Christmas season to light up all parks and squares. He said the commission had done its part and the corporation now had to do the decorative lighting.
“We have a lot of little things happening. While the big projects take a little bit longer to come along, they are also in the planning and getting-ready-to-roll-out stage,” Martinez added.
He said the revitalisation was really kicking up.
Speaking with Newsday on Sunday afternoon Miranda Lopez, owner and proprietor of J and M Dairy Delights said she was optimistic the changes would be beneficial for the business community.
"Change is constant so I appreciate him (Martinez) trying new things to boost visitors on the avenue.
"I know a few of the residents would be concerned in terms of getting to and from their homes but I'm confident it would improve business."
Newsday also spoke to bartender Jonathan Sooklal of the All Caribbean Bar who was concerned over the transportation of goods to and from the bar.
"I'm not so sure about that plan. There's only one entrance here and it's facing Ariapita Avenue so in terms of getting supplies from trucks, we would have to walk to the entrance from one of the side streets and that would be a challenge."
In 2012, former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing temporarily made Ariapita Avenue and Tragarete Road one-way. Lee Sing had also hoped to restore Lapeyrouse Cemetery and make it a visitor attraction.