ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The developers of a multi-million dollar gated community have confirmed erecting a gate in the Pearns Point area of Jolly Harbour, but are denying that the facility is to restrict beach access to the area.
For weeks, residents have complained that the erection of the gate affected access to beaches in the area that they have enjoyed for years.
In reaction to their concerns, OBSERVER Media made several attempts to contact representatives of the company for an interview on the subject, but our calls were not returned.
The Jolly Harbour area is known for some of the islands more beautiful beaches and residents said they felt their rights were being infringed when the gate went up.
However, in a surprise release on Thursday, representative for developers Orange Limited, Gaye Hechme, noted, “the developers own the land, but the beaches belong to the people.”
According to Hechme, the decision to erect the gate was in no way an intention to deny the public access to the beaches in the area, but to address some major environmental issues.
“There are issues of major illegal sand mining and illegal dumping of garbage which we are trying to arrest. These are environmental hazards that we are trying to minimise as much as possible,” Hechme said in a release.
Company representatives said they met with Minister of Lands Hilson Baptiste, Chief Town and Country Planner Frederick Southwell of the Development Control Authority (DCA) and raised the issue of beach access among other matters.
Hechme said, recent data conducted by the company’s surveyors, show that the beaches in the Pearns Point area are badly degraded; in some instances they have narrowed by over 100 feet. This, she adds, is not only due to natural disasters but also a direct consequence of illegal sand mining.
The release highlighted safety concerns as another reason why it has become necessary to erect a gate around the development, “since there are areas that are quite steep and prone to rockslides.”
The Pearns Point Development will consist of sixty-one exclusive villas, a boutique hotel, approximately fifty condominiums, a restaurant and bar and a spa and health club facility and will employ 400 people.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)