Coe Wood Beach project halted

Work on the development and expansion of Bodden Town’s Coe Wood Beach has been sent back to the drawing board.

Cabinet Minister and new Bodden Town MLA Mark Scotland said the project is on hold while the new government evaluates the project’s plans and funding arrangements.

Coe Wood Beach became a hive of activity as the 20 May election loomed with work on a new boat ramp, dredging of the foreshore and other upgrades.

There was also a flurry of activity in other parts of Bodden Town, including the clearing of a government-owned property on Cumber Avenue to install injection wells to help the flow of storm water. Injection wells use a pump to force large volumes of water deep into the ground.

But since then, work on many of the projects has ground to a halt as newly elected Bodden Town MLA’s reassess both projects.

Last week, residents gathered at the Coe Wood
Beach to watch workmen take away heavy equipment from the projects. Some accused the previous government members for the district, Anthony Eden, Charles Clifford and Osbourne Bodden, of starting the work as a last minute election stunt.

Mr. Scotland said the new United Democratic Party Government supports the projects in principle, but warned some drastic changes are needed.

He said he understands the importance of the project to locals, but said the challenging economic climate means all details will be reviewed to ensure value for money.

He also wants to make sure the projects are in line with community expectations and will not damage the environment.

‘The aim is to see the completion of this project in the near future,’ Mr. Scotland said

One problem he cited was that the boat ramp was being built for non-motorised vessels, while most fishermen use larger boats.

Asked about the Cumber Avenue injection wells, Mr. Scotland said that engineers have done a study of the area and are due to give him their recommendations soon.

Coe Wood Beach was first earmarked for redevelopment as part of the Go-East initiative put in place by the previous Peoples Progressive Movement government and spearheaded by Mr. Clifford, the then tourism minister and Bodden Town MLA, who lost office in May.

Heavy equipment and workmen went onto the beach in the last two weeks before the election to dredge a part of the foreshore to make way for the boat ramp.

There were also plans for a new marine channel and boating facilities, cabanas; market stalls; food kiosks; parking facilities; wheel chair ramps; bathrooms; lamps; benches; children’s and cultural areas with Bodden Town themes and etching; a story telling arena; and loads of Cayman flora and fauna.

Mary Lawrence, who has since been appointed Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, said she was concerned a new marine channel could damage the reef and make swimming more dangerous for children, if careful attention was not paid to details.

Others worried about the channel giving sea surge from hurricanes a clear path to the coastline. They worried that the development would attract noisy jet-skis and other marine traffic to the area.

Many residents said they supported the installation of a new boat ramp on the beach and other aspects of the project.

Marine officer Police Constable Hugh Bush said having a channel in the Bodden Town area would have been an added plus for officers patrolling the area and would have been good from a safety point of view.

Bodden Town resident Twyla Vargas said failure to go ahead with development projects are stopping the district from moving forward.