Sunday, March 05, 2023

Beach access is being threatened.

Access...... It's in interesting thing sometimes. 

The reason the Atlantic rowers are coming to jolly harbour today was because the TWAC organizers made a deal with the National Parks Authority to stop any row boats that did not pay to enter the TWAC from entering Dockyard.

Crazy but true.

So this am I'm sitting here drinking my coffee thinking about our 30 day row across the ocean and how these guys must be feeling, and then started to think about why they rowed all the way down to the west coast, passing English Harbour where we arrived in Jan 2018. 

Then I started thinking about the beach on the South finger side of the Jolly Harbour marina entrance which now isn't accessible to anyone other than the very smart property owners there. We were there yesterday

That beach has property lots right along it without any beach access which wasn't an issue until recently when the last property owner fenced their property. In fact, according to original management of Jolly Harbour, there was always access in the original development plans.

These property owners saw that they'd have a private beach now that things possibly have changed, and were smart to buy there. 

Now people who want to swim on that beach will have to kayak or boat there. The environment there despite the shipwreck is so interesting with migratory kingfishers using the trees to perch and spot little fish. Heron, pelicans, rays, jacks, cuda, and many others feed there. The turtle grass supports so much interesting life especially as it's the entrance of the internal water way. 

Anyway, it's not the property owners issue as they purchased land there that was divided and put up for sale. The trees on the beach were cut down and houses were built or are being built.

The issue is the government, CDAL, DCA should have envisioned a growing population where beach access is important. Even if we only worry about ourselves in this community called Jolly Harbour you'd think that these beaches would have walking access but no, there is none now.

The other side of the south finger is also is changing access with some property owners somehow managing to buy adjacent land on the beach side from the government directly making the beach area just that little bit smaller for the rest of the general public. I believe I have heard but do not have any specific information that the access to the beach at the base of Reed's point is also been changed. Someone said something about a new development happening there. Will access to that side of the beach be threatened. 

I think that there should be consultations with the community, stakeholders and the wider general public if there will be changes to the original development that will have an impact on how we use the coastline and beaches. As some people keep banging on about, the seawalls and the fact that this entire place was sold for a dollar with the assumption that the seawalls would be maintained by cdal to keep value for property owners. There were other assumptions made during the original deal that have now been forgotten.

Since most people here in Jolly Harbour are not full-time residents with children I don't suppose the majority of people are thinking about sustainability of our community's development, but something feels wrong in the way that access is now changing. 

That reminds me, fisherman and excursion operators and residents had access to the commercial center for their boats to do pick up and drop offs until the marina was sold by the la Perla guys. Since then I've had to pay to stop there to collect guests or to go and buy groceries or to visit a restaurant. There was no thought given by la Perla on access which until that point was used traditionally by all boaters for short stops. 

Maybe I'm rambling but with the new changes to what was a single home development only on harbour Island, our community is no longer possibly a 850 home village. In fact, we could have double that in the future. The development plans/rules will keep on changing (there's been so much change there in the last 20 years) that logically we could end up having more multistory "condo blocks" sometime in the future. Only having one single access at castaways for 1000+ homes isn't sensible. In an ideal world just for our community alone, there should be a park for everyone in our community to access the beach. 

Plenty eyes rolling reading these words I know, but sometime in the future local people will look at the poor developmental planning and not be happy. Is it too late to put a walking access point to this beach or to think about sensible access to the main south finger beach? 

I saw the graffiti on a survey mark on this on a beach recently and thought how pertinent it is in 2023.