Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Holetown Beach Closed

CBC TV Channel 8 reported with much fanfare (again) last night that work has finally started on the construction of the Holetown/West Coast Boardwalk. Well, we were told work was supposedly to start on this project last summer, but, hey, this is Barbados - it's summer all the time. At least this time (from the television pictures) they have started erecting the barricades to close off a portion of the Holetown beach to swimmers and other beach activity so that the heavy equipment can be brought in to move the earth and sea. When completed in another (Ahem, Ahem) six to eight months visitors and locals will again be able to walk unimpeded the entire stretch of beach from the Beachlands/Vauxhall area just north of Sandy Lane to the Villas On The Beach area just south the government complex in Holetown. This should give the West Coast an amenity very similar to the much praised South Coast Boardwalk between Rockley and Hastings in Christ Church.

Ironically, work is starting in front of the now closed Chefette Restaurant area at a time when the beach (sand) has recovered a lot on its own, no doubt fueling the concerns of those who have reservations about the effectiveness of man-made interventions aimed at controlling beach erosion. Another concern is that the project seems to have been increased in scope from originally announced plans particularly in the Beachlands area where they have apparently added a new artificial headland. The Beachlands Condo project had plans to widen the beach in front of them on their own, so it now seems that government has taken over that aspect of their project entirely. That may be bad for the taxpayers but good news overall for the environment given the record of private condo projects being allowed to do their own beach engineering on the west coast.

Speaking of which issue, the recent photos below tell the story of the continuing heightened beach destruction in Road View that has followed a private condo development which was allowed to build groins on the beach in front of its property seemingly without reference to or caring about its impact or implications for the rest of the area:

Cracks widened and more of the foundation of this fence in Road View was exposed as a result of rough seas last week. When this fence was built in the 1980s it was several feet from the high watermark and fronted by lush vegetation as well as three picturesque and much photographed leaning coconut trees.

This coconut tree in front of the defunct Kings Beach Hotel came down last week during the rough seas. Another one weakened by the same storm came down quite suddenly yesterday (good thing no tourists were trying to negotiate passage at the time - we might have had another Long Beach or worse on our hands). Countless trees have been lost in the area between Kings Beach Hotel and Mullins Beach since the groins were placed on the beach just north of the area. In place of the disappearing beautiful beachfront foliage people have had to resort to Gabion baskets and piling rocks to try to keep what's left of their properties from falling into the sea.

This is all that is left of the once magnificent beach that fronted the Kings Beach Hotel (at low tide - now completely impassable at high tide). The offending groins of the condo development can be seen in the background.

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