St Regis hotel: concerns over beach access
Queries on beach accessibility dominated the question period at a town hall meeting on the St Regis hotel development.
A standing-room only crowd packed into Penno’s Wharf for the presentation on Tuesday night.
Those in attendance included Quinell Francis, Mayor of St George, Senator Renee Ming, MPs Kenneth Bascome, Derrick Burgess and Lovitta Foggo, and Henry Hayward, former parish mayor.
Miguel Purrory, with Desarrollos Hotelco Group, and architect Colin Campbell, with OBM International, provided updates on the current state of the project before opening the floor to questions from those present.
A number of the questions focused on what the project would mean for public access to St Catherine’s Beach.
“Under the terms of the lease the entire beach is accessible to Bermudians,” Mr Campbell said.
Access in the future, he said, would be in the same location it is today only “better” and “safer”.
Ms Ming said that she had heard a lot of “angst” and “worry” from constituents over the issue of beach accessibility.
She pointed to the use of the term “reasonable use” within the lease granted for the project, as well as a portion which states that the beach can be closed by the hotel with the approval of the minister of tourism. “I think to manage an expectation, we should be able to say at what times would (the closures) happen,” Ms Ming said.
She also enquired as to how many jobs for Bermudians would be created by the development.
Laura Purrory, manager of the project on the ground, said that around 300 construction jobs would be created. Approximately 10 to 15 per cent of that labour force will be brought in, she said.
Mr Purrory said that the bottom line was better served with local workers.
“This is a business,” he said.
“From our perspective, the more Bermudians we have, the better.
“Bringing people from abroad costs a lot of money.”
Questions on camping, sewage, sanitation, illegal dumping and water were also raised by audience members.
Mr Purrory encouraged those in attendance and in the community to keep spirits high.
“Let’s not forget how much the community of St George’s will benefit from this project,” he said.
Mr Campbell echoed: “There are great opportunities coming down the line.”
Mr Purrory said that work on the golf course portion of the project would begin mid-2018.
By June 2020, St Regis would be a fully operational hotel, Mr Campbell said.
“There’s no money saved in taking a long time.”
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