|The picturesque Richard Haynes Boardwalk
The already popular boardwalk at Hastings Rock, Hastings, Christ Church can now boast of having the name of one of Barbados’ distinguished sons of the soil as it carries the name – The Richard Haynes Boardwalk.
With the sea setting the backdrop, waves crashing gently on the surf and the radiance of the setting sun lighting up the sky last Sunday, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart stood with the man of the moment – Sir Richard Christopher Haynes – and unveiled the plaque bearing the boardwalk’s official name.
The boardwalk being named after Sir Richard is in recognition of his sterling contribution to the political and social development of Barbados in general, and to the commercial development of the environs of Rockley, Christ Church, in particular. Sir Richard is also a former finance minister and the founder of the now defunct National Democratic Party, and a former member of the Democratic Labour Party.
The refurbished Hastings Rocks Esplanade was transformed into a place fit for dignitaries, with the Junior Big Band section of the Royal Barbados Police Force band returning to one of its stomping grounds to perform.
It has been three years since the popular 1.2 kilometre walkway, which spans from Rockley Beach to just west of the Sierra Beach Hotel, was first opened to the public, but its novelty is yet to wear off.
Visitors, joggers, those just looking for exercise, brides who want the sea as the backdrop for their pictures, and those looking for that casual afternoon stroll are among those who frequent the popular walkway daily.
Sir Richard described the boardwalk as a welcomed addition to other projects completed, and noted that it was an important response to the needs of Barbadians at this stage in the country’s development.
"In this small developing nation we have a health profile very similar to that of developed countries with diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and ischemic heart disease with attendant obesity very prevalent in our society," he said.
The idea to redevelop the boardwalk did not happen overnight, but was born out of the US$24.2 million Coastal Infrastructure Programme as the Rockley to Coconut Court Waterfront Improvement Project back in 2006, which was funded by the Barbados Government and the Inter-American Development Bank.
At the time work started with the construction of a new restaurant to replace the old Snackette that had deteriorated overtime. This was followed by the construction of a new beach facility, and the upgrading of the bandstand and hardscape on the promenade.
However, while the restaurant was completed in 2007, its opening was delayed for 18 months to facilitate the construction of the boardwalk.
Amidst criticisms and a budgeted cost of US$9.2 million, the boardwalk was built and designed to provide continuous public access along the shoreline and enhance beaches where feasible and appropriate.
Delivering the feature address at the naming ceremony, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said:
"These objectives were achieved while at the same time minimising environmental or social impacts during construction." He also pointed to the benefits of the boardwalk, which included property protection against storms and waves and high-energy events.
Mr. Stuart added that the boardwalk project, by its design, has demonstrated that where necessary, shoreline stabilisation and enhancement could be designed and constructed to add amenity value to the coast, and provide protection for coastal ecosystems.
Minister of Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, commended all those involved in the redevelopment of the area and urged the public to continue using the open space and boardwalk with care. "You must treat it as though it were your treasured own," he stressed.