Brighton Salt Pond Facility expected to be top class – Camillo
Phase one of the Brighton Salt Pond rehabilitation project is expected to be completed soon with the facility expected to be top class.
That is the word from Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves who is also the parliamentary representative of the East St George constituency in which the recreational and beach facility is located.
Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, Gonsalves says phase one includes the main building with three shops, new bathroom facilities, two gazebos and two fire pits. He said the buildings have been painted and the gazebos and the patio outside of the main shops are already in use by locals and tourists.
The finance minister noted there were two changes to phase one of the project, which came through community consultations.
The first change was effected because of residents’ concerns about a man who was living on the beach without proper accommodation.
“Seven days a week for a number of years, this gentleman spends his mornings and evenings cleaning the beach, removing debris, garbage, seaweed and fallen leaves.
“He is the reason that the beach has remained as beautiful as it has over the years,” explained Gonsalves who noted that phase one of the project was going to displace the man.
“After discussing it with residents and with the gentleman involved, we decided to modify the plans to provide modest accommodations for a beach custodian.
“This accommodation has been well and unobtrusively designed behind the shops. We are awaiting electricity and water connections there and the custodian accommodations should be completed within a week,” Gonsalves said last week.
The project is also addressing the road leading to the beach and Gonsalves said they were hoping the road would be complete at the same time as this phase of the tourism facility but there are some delays with the Kuwaiti contractor in charge of the road, so it is a few months behind schedule.
“I’m hoping the road will be complete in the next six weeks or so. The Ministry of Works has resolved some of the underlying challenges in the Kuwaiti roads programme,” Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT.
He added that phase two of the Brighton Tourism Project includes adding administrative and information space, but that phase is being redesigned and re-costed in light of some of the changes made in phase one, and the desire not to impose too many buildings on the landscape.
He added that the shops will be assigned early in the New Year, in consultation with the Ministry of Tourism and the Brighton community though priority (not necessarily exclusivity) will be granted to businesspersons and entrepreneurs from the immediate vicinity.
“We hope to attract a good mix of services and products to the beach. If you remember, there was a dilapidated building down there, that was in terrible shape. I’m very proud of the new facility, the new recreational and commercial opportunities for Vincentians, and the enhanced services that will be available to visitors,” Gonsalves stressed while noting that the this model will be replicated at other beaches across the country where it is possible.
Gonsalves also mentioned the Brighton Beach Rollers, a group headed by Elroy “Huffles” Arthur and the entity that built the original structure and maintained the area.
It was also mentioned that another change to phase one was inspired by some German cruise tourists who went for a swim and ignored the advice of workers at the site about the tides and currents, and where they could swim safely.
Gonsalves said one of the tourists ended up being caught in a dangerous current and was rescued by brave and quick-thinking workers who jumped into the water.
“This event spurred another modification, the construction of a lifeguard post,” the finance minister said.
Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT that he has received a proposal from the Ministry of Tourism and the Parks, Rivers, and Beaches Authority for the placing of lifeguards at some of the busier or more dangerous beaches and that proposal is being refined by Ministry of Finance staff to be placed in the upcoming budget.
“I expect that, before mid-year, we will have a small complement of lifeguards at some of our beaches, including Brighton Salt Pond,” Gonsalves said.