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Engineering professor helping revitalize birthplace of reggae legend

by Scott Brinckerhoff - October 23, 2006

A UConn engineering professor is helping lead the redevelopment of Rose Town, in Kingston, Jamaica's Trench Town district, the birthplace of Bob Marley and reggae.

Reggae fans may remember the mention of Trench Town in Marley's song No Woman, No Cry.

Norman Garrick, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, is working with the Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation; the Miami-based urban design firm of Duany, Plater-Zyberk and Co.; and the Kingston Restoration Co., the government entity playing a role in the redevelopment. Garrick is a native of Kingston.

As a consultant providing an overview of transportation planning in Jamaica, Garrick helped with the design of the street networks.

He developed the framework in 2004, while on sabbatical leave as a Fulbright Fellow in Jamaica.

This summer, he gave two lectures to local architects, planners, and engineers in Jamaica.

"The Rose Town project was conceived and initiated in 2000 by Britain's Prince Charles, with the goal of rebuilding the community and improving living conditions for its residents," says Garrick.

"Rose Town was chosen because, unlike some of the surrounding neighborhoods, residents there have brokered a tentative peace between the politically-based warring factions that plague some of the poorer communities of Kingston."

People in Rose Town reacted enthusiastically to the plan, he says, although they are apprehensive that it may not be implemented.

The plan includes designs for new housing, the rehabilitation of existing housing, new civic facilities, new transportation links, and revamped policies for financing housing for the poor.

"This proposal differs from more traditional planning efforts in that it focuses on strengthening and extending the existing physical and social urban fabric rather than taking the drastic slum clearance approach that is still common in the Third World," says Garrick.

The plan also calls for the building program to begin on large tracts of abandoned and burned-out 'no-man's land,' in order to repair the physical fissure in the community.

Garrick hopes that Rose Town will serve as a model for re-building distressed areas elsewhere in Jamaica and in other Third World cities.

Garrick became involved in the Rose Town project through his ongoing work with the Congress for the New Urbanism and through contacts he made at the October 2005 Mississippi Renewal Forum, a design workshop for rebuilding Mississippi's costal towns in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, specializes in transportation systems.
Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, specializes in transportation systems. He is working on a project to restore Rose Town, an urban community in Jamaica that is the birthplace of Bob Marley.
Photo by Peter Morenus


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