Folkestone To Be Closed To Facilitate Construction

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Members of the public at the meeting on Folkestone Park. (A. Miller/BGIS)??

The Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve will be closed to facilitate its redevelopment.

This was disclosed by Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster, as he addressed residents and interested persons during a Community Perspective meeting at the Holetown, St. James facility recently.

The Folkestone area will be transformed from a revetment in poor condition, to one which will boast two pocket beaches, safer water access points, a concrete walkway and increased pedestrian traffic. The changes are expected to generate more retail business.

It is projected that a redeveloped Folkestone will protect and rehabilitate damaged ecosystems, and hopefully change the behaviour of residents and visitors, so that they use and protect the marine reserve and its terrestrial resources.

However, the actual date of the closure of the park is yet to be determined, as the Holetown, St. James facility will be the last component of the 14-month long Holetown Waterfront Improvement Project, which is expected to get under way by late August, or early September.

"The reality with construction is there will be disturbance. You will be in a construction zone and you should not be in a construction zone when work is going on because you will be putting yourself and the contractor at risk," Dr. Brewster said.

He added that safety, particularly as it relates to marine construction, was an issue the CZMU regarded very seriously. "We have steel sticking out, We have boulders being actively placed [in the water], and we have machinery that is moving.

If you want to come and see, stand-up at the side and look, but you should not be in the water, or on the shoreline," he advised.

Dr. Brewster said CZMU projects were usually done with open construction sites to allow persons to have access, although a heavy public presence was not encouraged due to the nature of the work being done.

"We are not like other developers who would put up ???a wash’ of hoarding and you can’t see anything that is going on. In trying to have an open visual approach to what we (CZMU) are doing, you can go and ask the foreman on site what is happening, and ask the operators of machinery what is going on, because they have to stop the equipment once they see you on site," he told residents.

However, in the case of Folkestone, the Director pointed out that the area would be closed to picnickers for a short period of time to facilitate the moving in of heavy equipment. During that time, access will be controlled and managed, but the venue will re-open again on a limited scale.

The equipment is expected to be moved through the southern side of the park, resulting in the removal of some of the picnic tables.

"When we are finished, the change in the coastline is going to be permanent. Remember what this used to look like, because eight months after it has been changed you would have forgotten what it looks like now," he said.

However, he gave those present the assurance that all construction work would be completed in time for the start of the 2012 winter tourist season.

Dr. Brewster explained that CZMU officials had a bidding meeting with contractors who now have until mid-July to come up with quotations for construction work. "All the designs are finished. Town Planning approval has been granted. We have had our one-on-one discussions with the property owners and hoteliers and gathered information from them as to when they would be closed and when the villas would be vacant. We also have access agreements lined up," he disclosed.

The Director said work on the project would cease on December 1, to allow for a 15-day clean-up in preparation for the winter season and the arrival of visitors. Work on the project will resume on April 15, 2013, and run until the start of the next winter season. Details on the work to be carried out on the Holetown Waterfront Improvement project, and artistic impressions of the finished product may be viewed on the CZMU website: http://www.coastal.gov.bb/.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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