Plans for a seaside recreation area were introduced at a North Side District Council meeting last week and given wider exposure on Saturday at a family fun day organised by the district Pirates Week Committee.
Fittingly, the fun day activities took place at the Old Man Bay Dock, the site MLA Ezzard Miller has proposed for a community park.
The most prominent features of the proposal are two 70-foot jetties for pedestrian use only, with a roofed sitting area at the end of each and a ladder into the water for snorkellers. Marco Whittaker, who drew up the plans, said the existing boat dock is 70 feet long, so a sense of proportion will be maintained. There will also be eight cabanas along the shore. Parking for vehicles and boat trailers will be on the other side of the road.
Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Minister for District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture, told the Saturday gathering she was excited about the innovative proposal Mr. Miller had brought to her office. “I am confident it will get the approval of Cabinet,” she said.
Such approval is necessary because the dock area is public land. An adjacent parcel, between the dock and Over the Edge Cafe, is privately owned, but Mr. Miller said he is asking for permission to use the land as part of the recreation area. His rationale to the owner is that making the seaside more attractive will increase the value of the inland part of the parcel, he said Thursday night.
Ms O’Connor-Connolly said nation building is all about working together. She was pleased to know that the Department of Environment had already been consulted and district residents were involved in the plans. “When we do things in concert, when we put our hearts and hands together, we get so much more done,” she said.
As designed, the project encompasses 660 feet along the coastline, and a width of 92 feet between the water and the road. Some existing seagrape trees would be removed to make room for 10-foot-square cabanas, while other trees would be added in areas now without shade. Plans call for coconut palms and rocks as a roadside border to require parking in paved areas on the inland side of the road.
Facilities will include rest rooms and a volleyball court. A covered area would be built over a portion of the boat dock where fishermen clean their catch. A few of the cabanas will be designated for district cooks and craft workers to bring their home cooking, straw work, crochet and other products to sell. Mr. Miller said he wanted the park to be a place where residents and visitors alike could enjoy the environment during the day or come to watch the sunset.
He thanked Mr. Whittaker for the architectural renderings of the project and another North Sider, Kary Whittaker, for removing some rocks from the sea while monitored by a staff member from the Department of the Environment. He emphasised that the turtle grass would be kept; although the channel to the dock will need work, the natural habitat for marine life would be disturbed as little as possible.
Stanley Panton, a member of the district council and Pirates Week Committee, thanked Ms O’Connor-Connolly for her support of the project. Even during the week when setting-up for Saturday’s event was taking place, he reported, people stopped to say how much they looked forward to using the area and seeing facilities completed.
That could take a year or more. Mr. Miller said detailed drawings will be submitted to the Planning Department as soon as Cabinet permission is received. Once planning approval is obtained, “I believe we can do this as a community project,” he said, because people in North Side have the expertise.
Ms O’Connor-Conolly put it another way: “As another part of North Side blossoms, may you enjoy it for generations to come.”