A proposed statue dedicated to retired sprint kingpin, now Dancehall music producer Usain Bolt, which is set to be erected in the city of Miramar in Florida, is stirring controversy.
According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the discontent stems from the cost of the monument, which is set at US$250,000 (J$38 million).
“The runner’s statue will wind up costing much more than some Olympic gold: The tab for Miramar taxpayers will be a quarter-million dollars. While some residents balk at spending $250,000, even calling the cost “ridiculous,” the city says it’s worth the price for a sculpture of the super-fast athlete,” the Sentinel reported.
According to the Sentinel, the statue is being deemed “a nod to diversity” in South Florida by some officials.
“Through the years, hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans have made their home across the tri-county region, and Miramar also has a burgeoning number of families with ties to Jamaica,” it noted.
It said that the bill for the statue will be paid in four installments to Jamaican-born artist Basil Watson who has been commissioned to create it.
However, while Jamaican descendants like Alexandra Davis, a Miramar city commissioner is lauding the effort, her counterpart Winston Barnes has said that while Bolt is “a phenomenon,” he believes forking out $250,000 for the statue is ‘ridiculous’ and “a waste of taxpayer money”, according to the Sentinel.
“Miramar isn’t like Moscow, which has an Usain statue of its own. Miramar is not attracting international tourists,” Barnes reportedly said.
“Attaching ourselves to monuments or icons is not going to make us a 24/7 city… We’re not a tourist city — come on. The money could be better spent for ‘the larger community’ of Miramar residents. I do not think we have the luxury to try to create monuments of icons simply at the fancy of elected officials,” he argued further.
However, Davis, in batting for the monument, said she hopes the Trelawny native’s statue will help to attract “more international, world-class athletic events to the region.
“We wanted to make sure we had a world-class Olympian as part of the art in public places” Davis is quoted as saying.
The statue of the Clockwork producer is to be erected at the Ansin Sports Complex at 10801 Miramar Blvd.
The Sentinel also quoted Jamaican-born Miramar resident Doreen Lovell, as saying that: “a statue of Bolt alone shows “minorities can rise above … and shows we can achieve and that the statue helps “build up the image of the city” and would be “showing we are diverse.”
A disapproving former City Commission aspirant Chris Koval, was also quoted as saying that the city’s leaders “could have had a more encompassing display”.
“Rather than all the money going to one person, Koval said he would prefer to see Native American and Black athletes who are both from United States and served as inspiration for Bolt, such as Jim Thorpe, Carl Lewis, Florence Griffith Joyner and Edwin Moses, as part of a larger garden of honorees,” Koval said, according to The Sentinel’s report.
“For the money they are spending [it could have been smaller statues of] the greatest Olympians of all time, who happened to be American” while still recognizing Bolt is “crème de la crème,” he said.
“It would have been a more diverse display and nobody would have said ‘boo’”, he said.
Bolt, who retired from track and field in 2017, still holds the world record in the 100m and 200m. Now a music producer, he recently released a debut album with his friend and manager NJ titled Country Yutes, and has produced several Dancehall riddims including Clockwork (2021), Immortal (2020), and Olympe Rose (2019).
Source: Dancehall Mag