Awaiting go-ahead from government
Developer Dart Realty says it is still committed to making US$3 million worth of improvements to public beach, including cycle paths and beach sports areas as part of its bargain with government.
Work on the beach upgrades has been on hold since September last year so that government can consult with a concerned citizens’ group, according to the developer,
With negotiations between the two parties gridlocked, Dart insisted this week that it was moving ahead with its side of the deal, which includes a series of upgrades to the beach area and the addition of a children’s playground.
The playground appears to be complete but remains cordoned off by temporary fencing and inaccessible to children who use the beach.
Dart said the fact that work had been postponed on the beach was not connected to the apparent impasse between government and the developer over other aspects of the National Roads Authority agreement – the contract signed with the previous administration to facilitate, among other things the building of the Kimpton hotel, the closure of part of West Bay Road and the construction of the Esterly Tibbetts Highway extension.
The developer attributed the delays on the beach work to prolonged consultation between government officials and a citizens’ group that has protested some of the changes.
A group of citizens made headlines last year after they staged a successful protest against the removal of a Casuarina tree at the site as part of the development,
“Dart is committed to US$3 million of improvements to the public beach and park,” Jackie Doak, chief operating officer, said last week.
She said the Ministry of Planning, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure requested in September 2013 that Dart stop all work in the park area while its staff consulted with a concerned citizens’ group.
“The Ministry informed Dart that it planned to meet with the citizens, review the park plans, provide feedback, and then would advise Dart when it was authorized to resume construction. At a meeting on April 17, 2014, Dart was informed by Ministry staff that the meeting with concerned citizens has taken place, but that the Ministry would like to convene additional meetings before giving the green light to resume works. Dart is still awaiting authorization from the Ministry to finalize the works.”
She said the opening of the approved children’s playground is being held up by paperwork from government.
Some of the proposed changes, including the parking lot, new road entrance and paved emergency access to Seven Mile Beach, have been completed.
Work is planned for additional improvements, including beach sports areas, pedestrian and cycle paths along the beach close to the closed section of West Bay Road, and the addition of benches and picnic tables once Dart receives approval from government.
Sponsored areas, including a kids splash park and dog park, have also been mooted, but these discussions have also paused pending the outcome of government’s discussions with the concerned citizens’ group.
Last week Premier Alden McLaughlin said there had been “no progress” in discussions with the developer to renegotiate part of the NRA agreement, understood to include the 50 percent hotel tax rebate granted to Dart in that contract.
Dart responded that it had been in discussions on the issue since July and had offered alternative options, but in the absence of an agreement expected government to meet its contractual obligations.