Discovery Bay residents protest alleged beach takeover
Members of the Discovery Bay Community Development Committee (CDC) yesterday took to the streets of the town to show their disgust at what they claimed is an attempt by the operators of the Puerto Seco Beach to take over the adjoining beaches.
According to the residents, they fear they could soon not have access to affordable public beaches in the area.
It was the second protest in recent days, and organiser, Lee Arbouin, said further action will take place in order to ensure that Peach Beach, which she alleges is now the target for takeover by the Guardsman Group which controls the Puerto Seco Beach, remains
accessible to the general public and at an affordable cost.
"We are here because if we lose Peach Beach the locals will not have a beach in Discovery Bay. We are here because we are appealing to Red Cross, which manages Peach Beach, not to lease it to big business but to work with us, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, and the Government to develop the beach so that locals will have a beach that is affordable and clean," Arbouin told The Sunday Gleaner.
Trio of beaches
Puerto Seco Beach is on a stretch that includes the Member's Beach, Peach Beach and the Fisherman's Beach.
According to Arbouin, the word is that the Guardsman Group has now obtained a 25-year lease of the Member's Beach and is now seeking to lease Peach Beach, after which it will aim to lease Fisherman's Beach to build a marina.
"We need our voices to be heard. These people, the children need the beach for healthy recreation, the elderly need the beach to keep strong, the sick and the wheelchair-bound use the beach as part of their recuperation from illness. We need our beach.
"Today it's Peach Beach, tomorrow it will be another beach, and before long we Jamaicans will be walking around looking at the sea and not being able to get in it except we go for a rocky bit," charged Arbouin.
She said the CDC has already spoken to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and the Jamaica Labour Party's caretaker for the area, Education Minister Ruel Reid, about its concerns.
"So we are hoping that as part of the Government and they know what is going on, they will help us to address the situation."
The protest took place next to the Puerto Seco Beach property under the watchful eyes of the police, and Rory Baugh, general manager for the recently renovated facility, told our news team that as long as the protest remained peaceful it was okay.
Baugh declined to comment on the allegations of the residents.