BT beach development plans unveiled

Conceptual plans for the development and expansion of facilities at Bodden Town Coe Wood Beach have been welcomed by community residents.

Minister for Tourism and Bodden Town MLA Charles Clifford put forward the proposals during a meeting at the Bodden Town Civic Centre for residents’ input Monday night.

According to Mr. Clifford, the beach is the first to be developed as part of the Go-East initiate, which seeks to enhance facilities for resident and visitors to enjoy.

He hopes the new development will encourage local involvement, remove the focal point from Seven Mile Beach, compliment business growth in the area, enhance cultural heritage, increase levels of Caymanian ownership and employment and provide a truly Caymanian experience.

It will also tie in well with an existing tourism apprenticeship training program being undertaken by various persons, he said.

Development expansion of the beach will consist of a new marine channel; boating facilities; cabanas; market stalls; food kiosks; parking facilities; wheelchair ramps; bathrooms; lamps; benches; children’s and cultural areas with Bodden Town themes and etchings; a storytelling arena; and loads of Cayman flora and fauna.

Minister Clifford said the Government wants to use as much natural, cultural resources as possible in keeping with the theme of the Bodden Town Community and assured those gathered that he would do his best in keeping this promise.

Some residents said the project needs a lot of consideration.

Mary Lawrence said she is concerned a new marine channel could damage the reef and make swimming more dangerous for children, if careful attention is not placed on details.

Others worried about the channel giving sea surge from hurricanes a clear path to the coastline. They were also concerned about the development attracting noisy jet-skis and too much traffic in the area.

Some even called for lifeguards to be posted on the beach.

Marine officer PC Hugh Bush said having a channel in the Bodden Town area will be an added plus for Marine officers patrolling the area. He cited an incident where officers had to launch a police boat in South Sound in order to rescue someone in Bodden Town. He said having the channel was good from a safety point of view.

Twyla Vargas said resistance to development projects are holding back the district from moving forward. She pointed out that some had thought that way about the Country Side Shopping Centre development but, a few years later, everyone is now using it.

Minister Clifford said the beach development will join other sustainable tourism projects such as the White House Restaurant, which he forecasted will offer a location for weddings and cruise-ship passengers.

He also pointed to the East End Dive Lodge, which was destroyed in Hurricane Ivan, and which is now being rebuilt and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is to be built along the Queen’s Highway, as evidence that the Go-East initiative is helping development in the Eastern Districts.