by Lyf Compton
A fishing facility that government proposes to build in Edinboro is meeting resistance from some residents of the coastal West Kingstown community.
The facility, if built, will be home to boats that belong to fisherfolk who operate from Rose Place/Bottom Town and who will be displaced by the US$185 million port modernization project.
Last November, during a consultation held to discuss the proposed facility, residents of Edinboro expressed their serious concerns.
The issues were also detailed in a letter dated January 5, 2021 which was sent to the assistant project manager Lenski Douglas and copied to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Chairperson of the Port Modernization Project Steering Committee Laura Anthony-Browne
and Chairperson of the Resettlement Committee Kenyatta Alleyne.
According to the letter, some residents believe a facility of that nature will deprive residents of the use of the beach, one of the only remaining such recreational areas in Kingstown.
The beach is used for recreational activities like swimming, health and therapeutic purposes, particularly among the elderly and for religious baptisms.
“…for the development of the lifesaving skill of swimming, particularly for the children in the area,” is also one use stated in the letter.
The letter further stated that the facility will have a negative effect on the community as the installation of gas filling stations, and storage, repair and maintenance facilities will adversely affect the location and its environs.
“Gas storage accidents can result in fatalities, fires and explosions. It can result in an exposure to obnoxious odors which can cause air pollution, and later can impact indoor air quality in the surrounding homes and the secondary school,” the letter noted.
The Dr. J. P. Eustace Memorial Secondary School is located a few feet away from the proposed site.
The letter also notes that residents fear that the facility will be followed by a build-up of temporary or permanent shelters as is the case at Rose Place and that could create new and unwanted squatting settlements in the area. Residents noted that abandoned properties already attract unwanted squatters.
“The cultural impact on the community and the secondary school, which is a stone’s throw away from the proposed location site, will adversely affect the social behaviors of the residents and the students.
“Behaviors such as smoking, drinking, swearing, promiscuity, truancy, gambling and illegal trafficking,” the letter detailed, while noting that the possibility exists that students will transfer negative behaviors learnt in the new environment to their communities when they return home.
“The negative impact on the Dr. J. P. Eustace Memorial Secondary School’s hundreds of students who travel from as far away as Diamond Village on the Windward side, and from Vermont on the Leeward side,” is another issue listed in the letter.
Residents also highlighted environmental impact issues.
“The reefs and other marine life will inevitably be damaged, thus impacting on the scuba diving and recreational fishing activities and the ultimate destruction of the beach.
“We draw your attention to the environmental report by Dr Reynold Murray which succinctly expresses the views of the residents based on his own personal assessment,” the letter said.
The letter also suggested Clare Valley and Lowmans Bay as alternative sites for location of the fishing facility. Homes are currently being built at Lowmans Bay for residents of Rose Place displaced by the Port Modernization Project.
On Wednesday, when SEARCHLIGHT visited the area, a man who was on the beach with his dogs expressed his concerns about the project.
“So we want to know why they carrying the residents in Lowmans and not the boats, when the beach in Lowmans is bigger and better than here.
“It come like this will cause conflict in the neighborhood between we and the Bottom Town people them. Bottom Town have a nasty habit of how they keep themselves tidy,” the male resident said on the condition of anonymity.
He added that persons in Rose Place are known for using the beach and the sea for defecation and that is problematic, as a school is in close proximity.
The resident noted that the government is hoping to acquire properties close to the beach, and that will also be problematic as some persons will have an issue parting with their properties.
“It ain’t make no sense you have your boat them down here and you live another distance,” the resident said.
He noted that the beach sometimes attracts tourists as it is the only proper beach left in Kingstown and services residents of Paul’s Avenue, Montrose, Rose Place and even Ottley Hall among other places.
Elderly resident Douglas Neverson, who said he was present during the consultation between residents of Edinboro and officials, is against the proposed facility for many reasons.
He is of the view that government should consider repairing the seawall instead of building a facility that most persons do not want in the area, while the acquiring of properties “will cost an arm and an leg.”
“We have a number of issues. One is the environmental impact, that is, in terms of what happens at Rose Place, in terms of toilet on the beach, some just dig a hole, how it is going to affect us?” Neverson said.
“We cannot figure out how many boats you can bring over here,” Neverson pointed out noting that the area is not that big and dominated by a reef.
“We really are concerned,” he lamented, while adding that he was born in the area and returned there in 1989 after a period away. He emphasized that the beach plays an important role in the community.
Neverson noted also that in his opinion, the assistant project manager (Douglas) came to the consultation to share information, not to listen to residents.
However some residents are indifferent about having the facility in the area. One woman who did not give her name said, “if it come, it come, that don’t matter to me.”
Anthony-Browne, (Chairperson of the Port Modernization Project Steering Committee) said on Wednesday that the decision is before Cabinet.