Safety First

Monday, September 22, 2014

Trapped On Mullins Beach

"There was a time, I used to look into my father's eyes
 In a happy home, I was a king, I had a golden throne, 
Those days are gone, now the memory's on the wall 
I hear the songs from the places where I was born..."

Am I the only one left in Road View/Mullins, who finds resonance in these opening lyrics from Sweedish House Mafia's hit song "Don't You Worry Child" as I try to walk the beach in the Mullins Bay area?  See, I was practically born on this beach, just over the road in Bayfield on the site where the telephone exchange is located.  I remember a time when there were no seawalls, no rock revetments, and no groynes breaking up a wide sandy beach  that stretched from Margarets (Greensleves) in the south to Speightstown.  And, although I am fully aware of the accelerated beach erosion in the area in recent years, it's still always a shock when I try to walk the beach and find that I can no longer do it.

Such was the case yesterday as I tried to go around the bend between Mullins and Gibbes beaches.  The massive seawall that was built to keep out the sea and people behind the beachfront villa - Four Winds - is being repaired, and so, the path along the top of it which allowed safe passage from the crashing waves below is blocked.  I had to turn around and go back.  I was literally trapped on Mullins Beach.

Does anyone still remember that there was a wide sandy beach behind behind Four Winds and neighbouring High Trees (formerly Higwood)?  Four Winds is a special case as it was listed for sale earlier this year for more than US$50M - a record-breaking asking price for a property on the island, if not the rest of the Caribbean.  I don't know if it has been sold, but there is currently a lot of building and rebuilding ongoing on the property, including on the seawall, which despite its depth into the beach, the sea had undermined.

So, they have built a sandbag cofferdam and are trying to shore up the seawall behind it with yet more concrete and steel.  We continue to get away with a lot of evil in the name of Climate Change.  When are we going to learn that beach-hardening does not work?  It destroys surrounding beaches, upsets the ecosystem, and kills tourism.

Talking about the ecology for a moment, also on an area beach yesterday a rare turtle nesting in broad daylight occasioned my having to call the local sea turtle conservation to rescue the eggs from the precarious position of the nest on the narrow beach where nests are routinely washed out every nesting season.

What is needed in Mullins Bay is a comprehensive solution for the area involving the removal of all or some of the haphazard, patchwork of seawalls, rock revetments and groynes, etc., and a program of beach nourishment (re-sanding).  Clearly, we cannot go on with the one man builds a groyne - forcing his neighbour to build a seawall - forcing the sand offshore cycle.  But I am not a worrying child.  "See heaven's got a plan for [me]."

Click here for more pictures of the construction/destruction around Four Winds.

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