Angry residents plan protest at Shelly Bay
Protesters against a plan to create family-friendly attractions at Shelly Bay Beach said yesterday that they feared the Bermuda Tourism Authority would push ahead with its plans despite local opposition.
One of the organisers of a group created to fight the BTA proposal to set up temporary concessions in old shipping containers at the beach said a protest would take place tonight to clash with a BTA event.
LaVerne Furbert, a trade union official, said: “I’m calling for as many people as possible who are opposed to what the BTA is proposing to come out and let their voice be heard.”
Ms Furbert said that the group was prepared to thrash out an agreement on the future of the beach with the BTA.
She added: “I do believe the BTA is looking to move forward with their vision regardless of how the people feel, which is unfortunate.
“I would have expected that there would have been an attempt by somebody in authority to get everybody in a room and see if we can reach a compromise that is satisfactory to all.”
She was speaking as the BTA prepares to hold an event at Shelly Bay designed to showcase the concessions available under its plan to improve the island’s beaches.
The event will include the four finalists in a tender process to operate at the beach — three food vendors, and a beach and boat rental business.
The BTA unveiled its “Beach Economy Vision” plan for five beaches, including Shelly Bay, in June.
Ms Furbert was one of five area residents who outlined an alternative vision for the beach at a press conference this week.
The group’s proposal called for the beach to be made accessible to people with disabilities, including a removable non-slip mat for wheelchairs down to the water, rather than adding concessions.
Ms Furbert said her group planned to present the BTA with a petition against its plan with more than 1,000 signatures.
She added she did not think samples from vendors were needed.
Ms Furbert explained: “I think that most people know what Ashley’s Lemonade tastes like. As far as the Smokin’ Barrel, I think most people know what that tastes like.”
Ms Furbert said that the group was not opposed to a food vendor but it did not want one on the beach.
She added the group was also against chair and umbrella rentals.
Ms Furbert said that she had been contacted by three of the four possible vendors.
She explained: “I had to let them know that it’s nothing personal. It’s just that we want the beach kept as it is, a family beach without commercialisation.”
Glenn Jones, director of strategy and corporate communication at the BTA, said yesterday: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority has long believed listening to public feedback makes our beach economy plan stronger.
“It’s the whole point for what’s planned on Thursday evening, and we look forward to seeing everyone there, so they can experience what’s proposed and give further input.”
Mr Jones said earlier that the BTA would support moves to improve accessibility at Shelly Bay.
He added: “Our architect tells us that the proposal for a beach-access mat can easily be incorporated into the existing plan. We’ll work with our colleagues at the Ministry of Public Works to see if we can get it done.”
Ms Furbert said: “What the BTA is missing is that we still do not want any concessions — those repurposed containers — on the beach where they propose to put them. That won’t go with us.”
The BTA meeting will take place from 6pm to 8pm.
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