Demolition work at the former concessions building at Shelly Bay started yesterday — and local-area MP Wayne Furbert said he was optimistic about the future of the site.
Mr Furbert praised Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, for his fast work, and predicted the grounds would become “more of a park area”, with talks on fresh proposals for the site coming soon.
Work on the demolition of the 70-year-old building began after developer Tom Steinhoff abandoned plans to turn it into a beach bar and restaurant in face of serious structural problems and lack of agreement with the Bermuda Government on a lease.
Mr Steinhoff offered to foot the bill for the extra work needed to make the building structurally sound. But he was unable to secure terms of the lease that “reflect that additional investment” with the new Government.
The project also hit
resistance when Mr Steinhoff asked that existing park space be used as a car park for his proposed restaurant.
The parking plan was rejected following a public outcry and a petition to Government.
But most of the tourists and area residents spoken to on the beach yesterday morning agreed that it would be preferable to have some facilities at the location, including food and bathrooms (see story above).
Mr Furbert, who was on site, praised party colleagues for getting the go-ahead for the demolition.
He said: “Time has
overtaken, the local party has changed.
“We spoke to Colonel Burch to come to some resolution in regards to this area and from what I understand the building has been taken over by the Government.”
Mr Furbert added: “I would like to thank Colonel Burch for moving very quickly on behalf of the residents of Hamilton Parish and Bermuda as a whole.
“I would also like to thank my other colleagues
Derrick Burgess and Tineé Furbert — we have worked very closely to make sure that this area is kept predominantly for the people who use it on a regular basis.” Mr Furbert said: “Colonel Burch will beautify this area and make it more of a park for people to camp at with a picnic area.
“In the near future, we will be meeting area residents to inform them and show some sketches on what is possible in the future.
“We would like to have bathroom facilities in the beach area. We would like entrepreneurs in the summertime to have some hot dog stands or snowball stands or even jerk chicken, as far as I’m concerned.”
The Bermuda Tourism Authority has already detailed its hopes for the beach as part of their “beach economy vision” and said the location was
ideal for families with young children.
A BTA spokesman yesterday said the organisation expected to discuss the beach with Government next week. He added: “We have a meeting scheduled with government leaders next week to discuss public beaches, parks and trails.”
“We expect a dialogue around some of the strategic plans we have already devised for public spaces and hope to hear more about the PLP’s election platform ideas concerning beaches and parks.”