Area residents pleased with Shelly Bay plans
Plans to build a gazebo and improve access for seniors and the disabled at Shelly Bay Beach were welcomed by residents last night.
The proposed scheme would include “water wheelchairs” and removable non-slip mats that reach the water.
About 60 people attended a public meeting at Francis Patton Primary School, where Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the plans were not “cast in stone” and that he welcomed the views of area residents.
He said that seniors and beachgoers with physical problems were the priority “because Shelly Bay lends itself to catering for that constituency”.
The new ideas came after a pressure group blocked a plan by the Bermuda Tourism Authority for concessions housed in shipping containers at the Hamilton Parish site.
Blake Lambert, an architect and assistant project manager at the Bermuda Housing Corporation, who drew up the plans, said his goal was to “create some accessibility and community aspects” at the beach.
He added the proposals included the erection of a gazebo and a building for bathrooms that would also encompass storage space for water-accessible wheelchairs and Mobi-mats, which are portable and can be rolled out to create a pathway over sand for people in wheelchairs or with other disabilities to reach the sea.
Mr Lambert explained that by planting dense foliage, the bathroom building would be well-concealed once the plants matured.
LaKiesha Wolffe, who lost her left leg after a near-fatal road accident nearly six years ago, said Shelly Bay was one of the few beaches that suited her for swimming because of its hard sand. She told the meeting she used crutches, a cane and a wheelchair and said she hoped consideration would be given to making sure that the bathrooms were built with the disabled in mind.
Ms Wolffe later added she supported the proposals, but that she was worried about details like the level of sinks in the facilities, effectiveness of railings and availability of parking close to the beach. Mr Lambert said the bathroom designs would conform to standards laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
He added the doors to the restrooms would be on the water side of the building, in response to a question from a member of the public who was also concerned about accessibility.
Esme Williams and Cheryl-Ann Griffin, who were part of a group that pushed for the proposals as an alternative to the BTA plans last year, were delighted with Mr Lambert’s blueprint. Ms Williams said: “Whatever we said, he just envisaged. When we saw the plan, we thought, wow.”
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