Contention over access and use of another local beach has again reached boiling point. This time it is the residents of Batts Rock, St Michael who are frustrated about increased activity from the establishment of a private bar and restaurant on the public beach.
The business, which recently hosted an event for the Vujuday Music Festival, has transformed the once tranquil area into a hive of activity with loud music which residents have described as an annoyance.
A petition titled End the Disturbance to the Batts Rock Beach neighborhood has already attracted 20 signatures. It charges that property owners are “greatly disturbed by the levels of noise – especially live music and DJ/amplified music coming from the recently established bar/restaurant, La Cabane.”
While acknowledging that the establishment has been given permission to operate, the petition argued that the noise should be confined to the restaurant. The restaurant has however strongly denied the allegations ahead of an entertainment filled Easter weekend.
Kamala Kempadoo-Taitt, the wife of Andy Taitt who has lived in the area for the last 60 years told Barbados TODAY that her family was responsible for the petition and revealed it was a last ditch effort for relief after numerous requests for the business owners to scale down their activity.
“What we hear in particular is a percussion bass, so any deejay amplified music with a loud bass, any drumming or percussion just sounds like BOOM BOOM BOOM. That also travels across the water and affects the people living on the cliff as well,” she said, adding that the loud music would usually last until 10 at night.
“It’s not about the a time that they end, it’s about the level of the noise. But they raise the levels at that time and it echoes to the point that we can’t hear our own music here and we can’t hear the television because the music is too loud and that’s happening every Sunday night and that’s really annoying. Maybe if it only happened once a month that would be okay, but every single Sunday or two to three times a week. It begins to really work on your nerves and it’s annoying that you really can’t enjoy the natural sound of the sea and the environment,” she complained.
“People are also complaining about the fact that there is limited parking for regular users of the beach because of the traffic that’s going down to the bar/restaurant. Batts Rock was a very quiet place and now it’s full of activity all the time, which is very disruptive. We often have parking going all the way up and on private properties around the neighborhood because people are excited to go to this new beach bar. But it’s very difficult for those of us who are living in this neighborhood and we would like it to change,” added Kempadoo-Taitt.
The small neighborhood is made up primarily of retired Barbadians and expats who bought properties in the area and who have been calling police on numerous occasions about the challenges.
“It’s generally people who come in for a quiet, peaceful beach time and live in this area and come here because its quiet,” said the elderly woman who said the demographic that frequents the bar is considerably different from those living in the area.
“The bar is very upscale, it doesn’t have a happy hour and it draws a lot of people who are going to some of the more upscale bars on the west coast, so mostly upper-class Barbadians or tourists,” she added.
Questions had been raised earlier this year about the construction and location the bar about the location of the bar, which has taken up significant portion of the beach.
“The restaurant itself is also on an area which leads from the beach to the public changing rooms, so people are saying that their access is now also blocked. The beach takes up the pathway on the beach so it’s on a public beach and you wouldn’t quite feel comfortable just walking through. So even though they say they haven’t blocked the pathway, in theory you have your waiters walking back and forth, you’ve got tables and chairs in that area from midday to evening, so it makes the beach inaccessible for everybody actually except those frequenting the bar.”
Just last week, entrepreneur Shawn Morris was moved from his three-week-old beach chair rental business at Bathsheba, St Joseph by the National Conservation Commission (NCC).
Efforts to reach the NCC’s General Manager, Keith Neblett on this occasion have been unsuccessful.
However Julien Guldoni, manager of La Cabane argued that the music was only from 2:00pm to 8:00pm and is not too loud and is a good vibe. “Super simple, it’s not too loud,” he said.
Guldoni admitted that complaints had been made about the noise levels, but added that numerous people was attracting a large number of people.
“We have 40 employees, we open for lunch and dinner. We’re starting slow food where we’re going to grow some salads and fresh herbs. We will be recycling. We clean up the beach everyday and we employ 35-40 people from the Black Rock area.
“Every time you set up a business, you will always have people complaining about something but we have six to 700 people enjoying the place,” he said.
In relation to issues with parking in the area, Guldoni said the restaurant was trying its best to accommodate patrons, but said the area would only be over crowded if they were having a music festival, like Vujuday.