Progress being made on Montagu foreshore redevelopment

Saturday October 10th, 2009

After years of talk, the Montagu ramp and foreshore may be a step closer to reaching its goal of re-development.

A committee charged with overseeing the redevelopment has narrowed its options to three with regard to how best the area can be utilized.

Committee co-chair Diane Philips disclosed yesterday that the options have been narrowed to maintaining Montagu foreshore solely as a pristine recreation area with a restored beach, green space and proper facilities; to allow the commerce that is presently there to remain but with provisions for relocating within the foreshore with better organization, planning and layout; or to recommend a viable alternative for locating those [vendors] who participate in the commercial ventures that now take place along Montagu ramp.

The options come after a week-long survey conducted from September 25 to October 1. The 14-member committee took into account three specific areas including traffic, commerce and risk factors.

The findings have been submitted to Minister of State for Social Development Loretta Butler-Turner, one of the people spearheading the effort for redevelopment.

According to Phillips said the next step is to prepare a report with rough drawings and estimated costs associated with each of the options. In the meantime, she reported that a tentative public meeting has been set for Monday, October 26 at Montagu foreshore.

The Montagu foreshore has long since been an area of contention for many.

Phillips said yesterday that the committee has found that over the years, the area has developed into a "chaotic unregulated center of commerce, with an almost carnival-like atmosphere that leads to tension among vendors, dissatisfaction among residents and constituents with potential risk for recreational users."

She explained that the actual usage of the ramp was intended to be for public boat access.

"That is the recreational users, the person who wants to take his or her little boat down, put it in the water go out for the day to the beach or go fishing or just go out and enjoy the day, and who can't actually easily get to the ramp and just gives up because the ramp is now occupied for commercial purposes," she said.

Phillips said considering the multiple concerns caused by the current arrangement, the committee intends to move quickly in finalizing a redevelopment plan.

"It is critical," she said. "If we continue to let Montagu exist as it exists, it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or worst. There are health hazards. The system as it exists is simply out of control," Phillips said.

The goal of the committee now is to have the report regarding the three options completed by November 16.

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