There are big plans to develop St Ann’s premier football facility into a multi-sporting venue, including three world-standard tennis courts by Tennis Jamaica.
Andrew Salm of AMBS Development and a member of the Salm family which owned the property, in handing over the title to Mayor Desmond Gilmore in the council’s office, called for the community to support the council in its drive to develop sporting facilities at Drax Hall.
The 32 acres that were under the control of the council, and which the title covers, already contain the parish’s top football field, a practice football field and a cricket field.
Salm said he was pleased to be able to hand over the title, 25 years after discussions were initiated between his grandfather and former secretary/manager at the council, Cynthia Graham, and former member of parliament Manley Bowen.
“I guess maybe 25 years ago there was a plan to develop sport in St Ann, which Ms Graham, Mr Bowen and my grandfather were part of. We’re pleased that we can now hand over the title to the council,” Salm stated.
“I know they’ve been hampered in their progress of developing sport because of the delay in handing over the title.”
Salm was also pleased with the move by Tennis Jamaica.
“I’m excited that the council was working with (Tennis Jamaica), who I understand have the financing to be able to push tennis once again in St Ann. I’m hoping that the local community will be able to get behind the council and support any other development they have for any other sport so the dream can be realised.”
The importance of the donation of the Drax Hall lands to the people of St Ann by the Salm family was underscored by Gilmore, who described the occasion as a glorious and wonderful day in the life of the parish of St Ann.
Gilmore revealed that discussions are already under way with Tennis Jamaica representative charged with developing tennis in rural Jamaica.
“We had confirmation from him that funding is in place, they have already identified the area (northern end), that is where Tennis Jamaica is going to be building three world-standard tennis courts, including a practice court,” Gilmore said.
The mayor said the agreement will see the facilities and formal coaching, where applicable, being available to high school students and youth in general, in St Ann.
Hailing the plan by Tennis Jamaica, Gilmore said: “Ocho Rios High, for example, has produced some of the best tennis players that this country has ever seen, so here is a niche market if you want to excel or do well in sports, for the name of the parish to be out there in the public’s eye.”
He added that the council is also looking at plans to develop two multipurpose courts at Drax Hall.