Drawing inspiration from famous promenades in Havana, Miami, New York and Paris, local architects have said they think a boardwalk linking downtown George Town to Seven Mile Beach will draw tourists, attract locals and energise businesses in the area.
On 29 February, the Central Planning Authority considered an application for a 0.25-mile boardwalk/sidewalk on the seaside of North Church Street, running from the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal to the building that houses La Dolce Vita Restaurant. In the works for nearly two years, the project has gained support from the 16 landowners and businesses along the strip, more than half of whom are willing to pay for the section of the boardwalk that would traverse their land.
The remainder of the funding would potentially be raised through individual donations, possibly in exchange for nameplates on benches, planters or pavers.
As the boardwalk is intended to include tributes to the history of the area – such as boatbuilding, diving and snorkelling – families may be enticed to donate to ensure the recognition of relatives who were particularly influential in the area.
Although at the moment the project would be wholly funded through private donations, when open, the boardwalk – which ranges in width from 5 to 10 feet – would be accessible by the public.
Architect Robert Johnson, of project manager Chalmers-Gibbs Architects, said designers would use different materials in different places – for example, newly poured concrete where no pathway currently exists, or simple painted stripes where the existing sidewalk is sufficient.
“We don’t want it to be too flashy, or too strange,” he said.
While the name ‘boardwalk’ may conjure up images of actual wooden planks, the proposed boardwalk would have to be made of concrete or some other durable material in order to withstand battering by sea and storms.
Designers have been collaborating with government planners, who suggested the boardwalk include adequate lighting so visitors may use the area at night.
Mr. Johnson said the idea isn’t simply to provide a walkway so pedestrians no longer have to dodge automobile traffic. Rather, the goal is for the boardwalk to be a destination point where locals and visitors may experience the views of the sea and drive business to downtown establishments.
The first phase of the proposed boardwalk would run from Royal Watler and go past the fish market, Hammerheads, Casanova Restaurant, Divers Down, Rackam’s, a private residence and Dolce Vita.
The ultimate vision is for the boardwalk to extend all the way to Dixie Cemetery, near the three-way stop where North Church Street intersects with Eastern Avenue and becomes West Bay Road. That would provide a walkable link between George Town Harbour and Seven Mile Beach.