A $3 million project to enhance Seven Mile Public Beach and create a new “vendor village” for traders begins Monday, according to the Dart group.

The development aims to improve the recreational areas at the beach and provide order and supervision to the sometimes chaotic commercial activity in the area.

Improvements to the soccer and volleyball courts, including the addition of spectator areas, and new toilet facilities with disabled access are also part of the plan.

The modifications are being funded by the Dart group as part of a National Roads Authority agreement – the partnership between the developer and government that facilitated the construction of the Kimpton Seafire Resort next to Public Beach.

The project is expected to take four months to complete. An increase in commercial activity at the beach, including deck chair and water sports rentals, has been a concern for visitors and residents for some time. The development of 16 stalls for vendors is part of a wider plan by government to move the traders off the beach itself.

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“Having a designated space for licensed vendors will allow the Public Lands Commission Inspectorate to better manage commercial activity on Public Beach,” said Lands Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly in a statement Thursday.

The stalls will be designed in the “Cayman cottage style,” according to a press release from the Dart group.

Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said, “These upgrades will benefit residents and visitors alike by providing designated spaces for local businesses to operate, new restroom facilities to make the beach accessible for persons of all abilities, and additional landscaping to provide more public green space and shade for our community to enjoy.”

The works will be undertaken by Dart. Construction will occur in three phases, the first of which will occur in the southernmost area of the beach and include the construction of the new vendor area, restroom block and walking paths. The second phase will see the addition of new walking paths around the existing children’s playground and improvements to the volleyball courts. The final construction phase will focus on upgrades to the parking area.

Kenneth Hydes, vice president for special projects and partnerships at Dart’s construction company DECCO, said the project represents a significant investment to improve one of Grand Cayman’s key attractions.

“Dart is committed to the continued sustainable economic development of the Cayman Islands and delivering this project for the wider benefit of the local community and our country as the premier tourist destination in the Caribbean,” he added.

While the public will continue to have access to the beach via the existing parking lot and walking path during the first construction phase, private vehicles will no longer have access to the beach.

Once the first phase of the work is complete, private vehicles will not be able to drive directly up to the beach anymore. This decision was made to ensure the safety of all beach users going forward and prevent future instances of reckless driving near the cabanas and soccer pitch, according to a Dart press release.

Access to the Mobi-mat, for wheelchair access to the beach, will be maintained throughout the project, and the public will still be able to access and book the beach cabanas, Dart said.

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