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No need to widen Town Cut – ex-mayor

A former St George's Mayor is calling on Government to reconsider a plan to build a pier at Murray's Anchorage rather than blasting Town Cut.

Henry Hayward said that while the old plan would likely involve the demolition of several buildings and cost the Park Hyatt resort 20 to 30ft of golf course, the pier could allow large ships to service the east end sooner, and at lower cost.

“I see no reason it couldn't be designed and have construction started in the next six months,” Mr Hayward said.

“Based on the reports, the town is in dire straits. We need something to be done soon.”

The proposed single pier was originally discussed in 2006 as an alternative to widening Town Cut, with passengers possibly being ferried or walking to St George's.

However in March, 2007, Tourism and Transportation Department consultant Larry Jacobs said that the option of developing Murray's Anchorage was not being pursued.

Since then, the number of cruise ships visiting the east end has plummeted, with the size of Town Cut limiting the ships capable of visiting the port.

For the last two years only one ship, the Holland America Line's

Veendam, has made regular visits to the east end, tendering at Murray's Anchorage.

Last year Government ordered a study on the possibility of modifying both Town Cut and Two Rock Passage.

While the study has not formally been released, media reports last week claimed the report recommends more than doubling the width of Town Cut.

The proposed modification would result in large segments of Higgs, Hen and Horseshoe islands being destroyed. The project is estimated to cost as much as $71 million, and would likely not be completed until 2017.

Transportation Minister Terry Lister said yesterday that the Ministry has been involved with talks with stakeholders in advance of the reports release to the public, and were disappointed that the report was shared with the press.

“We intend to continue the series of meetings, with public town hall-style meetings being the most important part of the series,” he said. “At that time, we will discuss all the options as we see them.”

Mr Hayward said that after hearing the reported contents of the study, the concept of developing at Murray's Anchorage seems increasingly attractive.

“It would be a lot cheaper, there is no doubt about that,” he said. “It's a tremendous amount of work to cut and dredge that out at Town Cut.

“And it would be walking distance from town. It's no different than the distance from Tobacco Bay to the town square, and visitors walk that every day.”

Mr Hayward said he was stunned by the early reports of the study's suggestions.

“I was shocked by it. We shouldn't even waste any time debating it for many reasons, not the least of which is the environmental impact on the reef area,” he said.

“I don't think many of us expected that it was proposing to take away that much of the Islands to get one of the bigger ships in. The full report hasn't come out yet, but what has come out shocked me.”

While he said most people he has spoken to seem to approve the idea of building a pier at Murray's Anchorage, he said the proposal has it's own faults.

He estimated that the pier, along with the required infrastructure, would require around 20 to 30ft of the St George's Golf Course, leading to a likely conflict with the proposed Park Hyatt resort.

It would also likely require the demolition of several buildings, including a former prison building now used for storage by the Corporation of St George's, and a derelict theatre.

Mr Hayward however said that unlike the suggested modifications to Town Cut, work to install the pier could be undone if deemed unnecessary in the future.

“We used to limit the number of cruise ships in town,” he said. “That's the beautiful thing about cruise ships. If the Park Hyatt and the boutique hotel get built and we don't need the cruise ships, we can turn them away. Once we blast Town Cut, it's gone forever. A single pier, we can take it down.”

St George's MP and UBP leader Kim Swan said that he had not had an opportunity to read the study, but had seen the reports in the media.

“It is a given that the town of St George's is reeling and many businesses are hanging by a thread,” he said. “I am keeping an open mind on the findings.”

And St George's North MP Dame Jennifer Smith, said: “My opinion will be in keeping with whatever my constituents believe is in their best interests, when they have formulated an opinion on what is best for the area.”

Henry Hayward

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Published September 19, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated September 19, 2011 at 10:00 am)

No need to widen Town Cut – ex-mayor

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