DEVELOPER PROMISES DISCUSSIONS WITH RESIDENTS WHO’VE GIVEN ULTIMATUM ON EDGEWATER PROJECT
By Anesta Henry
Concerned St Joseph residents are appealing to the developer of the old Edgewater Hotel property to remove the columns under construction that will block their access to the riverbanks on both sides of the Joe’s River Bridge.
Residents have given the developer, Ullswater Limited, a deadline of March 19 to reverse the decision to build the structures or they will turn up the pressure as they seek a return to full access to the area.
A representative of the company that is transforming the old hotel property into a beach house and villa has indicated they will engage with residents.
On Tuesday morning, residents from communities across the parish gathered at Joe’s River Bridge and insisted that the development taking place on the site of the old Edgewater Hotel must not be allowed to prevent access to the gully or the historic ‘Tea Cup and Saucer’ area.
Cultural Ambassador The Most Honourable Anthony Gabby Carter was also at the location and made it clear that no developer would be allowed to block access to Joe’s River.
Spokesperson for the residents, Victor Lewis, who in a viral video posted last week expressed concern about the columns being built on either side of the bridge, stressed: “We need 24/7 free access to the gully and to Tea Cup and Saucer.
“We are encouraging those individuals who are in charge of the project that we must go back to the drawing board and redesign what is going on here, such that it incorporates access for not only the able-bodied but also the disabled.”
Gabby, who sang “Joe’s River belongs to us, it will never be the property of any Aussie”, said the situation was no different to what happened at the Crane, St Philip in 2018 when beach vendors complained of being pushed out of their spaces by the hotel.
“This is just foolishness again,” Gabby declared.
“So we have had enough and we are saying to the authorities, including the Town and Country Planning people, ‘you are wrong and you are wrong and strong, but this time you cannot prolong because we are coming down with power’.
“And when I tell you with power, all the residents of St Joseph and adjacent parishes will come with power and stop this foolishness from occurring. This cannot happen,” he declared.
Noting that Joe’s River, which stretches to Chimborazo, is the longest river on the island, the cultural ambassador and author/singer of the popular Emmerton pointed out: “The river runs for more than two miles. In a little country like Barbados, you are still fortunate enough to have a river that runs for more than two miles and you have fishing, and you have crabbing, and you have the catching of crayfish and other recreational activities taking place at the river which these people of St Joseph have enjoyed for thousands of years since the days of the Arawaks.”
“The developer could not have thought it through to come to a decision like this. This is what you call willy-nilly business near the sea. This is madness… this is nothing which was well thought out,” the activist added.
Resident Mariet Allman said her 95-year-old mother who enjoyed playing in Joe’s River gully and its immediate environs as a child, wished she was able to join the gathering because was not happy about the development.
“We are not happy with it at all and she is upset and conscious about what is happening,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer of South Central Marketing Richard Haynes, speaking on behalf of Ullswater Limited, said the developer had stopped the construction on the eastern end of the bridge.
He also indicated that the developer intended to engage the local community in discussions “to come to a solution that works for everybody”.
“I have met with Victor who was initially concerned about this situation and I will be connecting with Victor through Edgewater, hopefully exchanging information between the two so that the community and the company can come to an amicable resolution very quickly,” he said.
“Ultimately, having this kind of investment in the community is great for the community. Ullswater are the ones responsible for fixing the railway track that was damaged a few years ago; they also invested heavily in the Joe’s River Bridge and certainly feel as though they are a part of the community and not against the community,” Haynes assured.