Sat | Dec 15, 2018

No more 'party like Sandz' - Events at Palisadoes road venue on hold

Published:Friday | January 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Traffic gridlock along the Palisadoes strip caused by created by unruly motorists attending the New Year's Day party.
The identifying sign for 7th Harbour on the Palisadoes strip, Kingston.
Some of the persons who turned out for Sandz at 7th Harbour Beach Park along the Palisadoes strip in Kingston on New Year's Day 2018.

The 7th Harbour Beach Park will not host another event for at least a month. Mugz, Big Cups, Shore, and Daydreams are some of the events which have utilised the Palisadoes road venue in Kingston. However, the road pileup for Monday night's staging of Sandz, which disrupted traffic on the Palisadoes strip for hours, and hampered access to the Norman Manley International Airport, has threatened utilisation of the developing beach park.

Since the New Year's Day debacle, the authorities have decided against granting permits for events to be held at the venue. "In one month we expect to not only have gotten the report, but have gone through dialogue in terms of solutions. We're not going to say it's going to be a no-no. It has to be reasoned, and we have to take everything into consideration," Kingston's Mayor Delroy Williams told The Gleaner.

"We may say that for events of a certain size we wouldn't issue a permit, but that depends on the report. For now, we won't be approving or issuing any licences to have events in the area until we have determined what was the real cause of the breakdown. Then, we have to see if that's a situation which can be remedied before we make a decision." the mayor clarified.

He suggested that when the issuing of permits for events at 7th Harbour is resumed, there may be conditions which have to be met.


Adequate preparation


Warren McDonald, director of the 7th Harbour Beach Park development project, has expressed concerned that his business is being unfairly dealt with following the New Year's Day fiasco.

"I don't want to point fingers, but it's difficult to handle people. Jamaica, as a whole, has traffic management issues. Other events have issues too; it's just for us to come up with traffic management solutions that appeal to the population to obey. In more developed countries, there are [road] signs, and if they don't follow, there are consequences," McDonald said.

Having successfully hosted events previously, McDonald assures there were adequate designated parking areas, a shuttle service provided by the promoters, and proper procedure followed in securing police presence on the location.

"I just want all stakeholders to come together and acknowledge that entertainment is an important economic engine, and acknowledge that these promoters have created something with significant demand," McDonald told The Gleaner.

McDonald said that 7th Harbour Beach Park has been in operation for about two years. Though still in the initial stages, the director claims there are architectural designs, permits, and other measures in place for the development of an entertainment centre, water park, marina, and hotel with restaurants and bars.

"We're still waiting on some final things," he said. "We understand and we are anxious. As major stakeholders on the Palisadoes strip, we want to meet with the mayor and the Ministry to work on solutions. That is what is needed, instead of trying to tear down things. I don't think knee-jerk reactions are the way to go. We have to identify the positive aspects and fix the negative ones. Any other country [with a Palisadoes strip] would have entertainment 24/7, annually," he said.

According to McDonald, event planners and promoters are required to provide a number of patrons expected to attend the event, and the promoters of Sandz reportedly anticipated 4,000 patrons. The venue's capacity is reportedly 5,000. "I think that [Sandz] got the full complement. It's a very popular event; they have created a significant following," he said. Still, McDonald does not conclude that the Palisadoes gridlock was caused by the sheer volume of people.