‘Potential Of Ruining, Rather Than Enhancing’

July 10, 2018 | 23 Comments

[Opinion column written by Cheryl-Ann Griffin]

Dear Bermuda,

I write in response to Mr. Glenn Jones’ letter in yesterday’s Bernews. I write on behalf of those whom Mr. Jones has named as ‘dissenters’.

The BTA is, in actuality, attempting to appropriate the success of Shelly Bay, gentrify and contrive activities and events at Shelly Bay and commercialize these events and the beach areas all in the name of the new buzz words, ‘entrepreneurship/entrepreneurialism’.

This would mean, amongst other items; advertising and promoting on cruise ships and hotels and bringing tour buses of hundreds of visitors to spend each day at Shelly Bay Beach; as is done at Horseshoe Bay, Tobacco Bay and Snorkel Park, and to a lesser extent, so far, to Clearwater Beach. Its intention is to set up beach lounges and suntents/umbrellas in a ‘designated’ area of Shelly Bay Beach and to setting up Tiki Bars/Beach Bars selling beverages that would include alcohol. They plan bike rides across the beach and park, yoga classes on the beach and massage tables on the beach for our children and families to manipulate around.

The truthful reality and circumstances of Shelly Bay Beach is that it is one of the couple of remaining public beaches in Bermuda that is perfect for children, families, neighbourhood and community. Shelly Bay is the only public beach along the North Shore Road, Bermuda. Throughout the summer months Shelly Bay remains extremely popular with schools, summer camps, church groups, senior groups and families. The beach is not a large one, and is often chosen, by locals and visitors, for its safety, tranquility, convenience and freedom.

The BTA also plan 3 structures from containers to sit on the beach or on the newly acquired empty space to serve as a food and refreshment centers, rental or sale of beach sports equipment and beach sundries by these bus-loads of visitors and for storage for beach toys.

Mr. Jones stated that ‘The Bermuda Tourism Authority team has recommended concessionaires think about popsicles, ice cream and snowballs’. The truth is that that was actually a suggestion put forth by the community in disagreement with the tiki-bar and container concession idea at Shelly Bay. We suggested that they allow a summer student a moveable refreshment cart so that they can earn money towards school fees. We also suggested the lunch wagon as an addition or an alternative; but The BTA wants the gentrified version as found in some other countries.

Mr. Jones also states ‘The proposed execution is non-permanent and entirely removable. It’s cost effective and sustainable – utilising the existing power and parking infrastructure at the site.’ Mr Kevin Dallas, on another site contradicts this by continually focusing on the ‘containers on the beach’ idea; therefore, Mr. Dallas and Mr. Jones are not exactly on the same page.

What we do know, however, is that the basis for Shelly Bay being designated as one of the five for The BTA Beach Vision was that it had an existing infrastructure and was already designated as commercial. As we all can see, that infrastructure has disappeared. There is no electricity or plumbing at Shelly Bay Beach. It will not be replaced because anything placed there is subject to flood from storms as we witnessed this winter and often experience during hurricane season. Bermuda is also enjoying that new view that we have now, all the way to Dockyard. Just like the infrastructure has been eliminated so should the plan for Shelly Bay.

Mr. Jones writes: ‘The plan honours the cultural traditions of Shelly Bay and protects its family-friendly nature.’ This is not a new concept. The Shelly Bay Beach has authentically honoured Bermuda’s cultural traditions and family-friendly nature for generations. Shelly Bay has not required or does it yet require any assistance from the BTA in this aspect.

The past two weeks and weekends are just an example of how popular and successful that beach is in celebrating the Bermudian version of picnicking: utilizing the beach for summer camps, church picnics and senior picnics, birthday parties, family celebrations. It has always, also, been an enjoyable practice of welcoming our tourists who come by bike, taxi or bus…those tourists who want to see and experience an authentic Bermuda Beach event, not a contrived, overcrowded tourist trap.

The BTA Vision will only succeed in driving Bermudians away, relegating us to corners as has already happened at St. Catherine’s and Horseshoe Bay or turning away school children as has already happened at Tobacco Bay. It has the potential of ruining, rather than enhancing, the celebration of Bermudian beach culture as practiced at Shelly Bay.

It is also surprising to us that this plan has the support of BEST. With such a daily increase in traffic at Shelly Bay, the reefs and fish stocks will be significantly negatively affected, making snorkeling mundane. The following statement from The Bermudian Magazine explains what will happen at Shelly Bay – ‘Tobacco Bay proper has become overrun with tourists, and the Bay contains a lot of trash, making for a less pleasant snorkeling experience and diminishing the number of fish and corals’. The one day BHW Raft UP is more proof, with the amount of trash found underwater after this event.

It must be added that entrepreneurship and economy recovery also happens when we picnic. In our picnicking practice we don’t just use the entrepreneurs that they think that they must select. We are already using them. We buy the needed goods, from food to barbeques. We employ entrepreneurs and encourage entrepreneurship by having small business supply us with i.e.cakes, pies, fishcakes, planned scavenger hunt experts, celebration supplies etc. The BTA cannot be so arrogant to believe that this does not happen without their insistence. They underestimate the power of the community support for all business. We are proud to claim that Bermudians must be among the best beach picnickers in the world.

‘A culinary expert wants to do a once monthly family fish fry.’ There are lots of ongoing events put on by the community that happen at Shelly Bay. A fish fry is not something new or out of the ordinary and can also occur without the commercialization or gentrification of the beach.

‘There’s a massage therapist who’d like to try a twice-weekly experience at the beach under a pop-up tent at dusk’ When this gentrified activity was questioned, there was no intention of having massage tables set up at dusk. This was one of the events, along with yoga, planned for peak hours when our summer camp children are at Shelly Bay. It is disingenuous of Mr. Jones to slip in ‘at dusk’ to try to make it more acceptable to persons stuck on the word ‘entrepreneurship’, rather than the ideal of ‘community’.

We would also remind you that most cruise ship passengers and hotel visitors return to their ship or hotel or AirBnB at dusk to prepare for dinner and we do not think will not return to Shelly Bay for massages, S’mores or floating movies. For Bermudians these events are not offered free of charge; or without, once again, restricting areas of this public beach. We have had community movies and concerts on the field.

“A food truck operator who has been parked for more than a year without serving a single customer is optimistic about hitting the restart button at Shelly Bay’ states Mr. Jones in his letter. As stated before, we have no disagreement with a food truck. We hear that an agreement for a food truck at Shelly Bay has already been signed. We hope it is this young man.

Mr. Jones waxes eloquently about ‘opportunity’ ‘being hit in the face with a wall of bureaucracy’ ‘resistance to change’ ‘the little guy’ ‘the little guy’s ally’; all in an effort to blame and shame the Shelly Bay Beachgoing community for the challenges facing Bermuda and to insinuate that we are not aiding economic recovery as we should.

He and Mr. Kevin Dallas are demonstrating that the boxes that they so want to tick on their BTA Beach Vision mean more to them than the genuine and truthful communication and collaboration that they profess to have had with all stakeholders .

We feel that the BTA Beach Vision Plan looks good on paper and can work at other venues. In this small 21 square miles there are several public and more hotel beaches where the visitor and local can be fully serviced, if that is their preference. There are numerous established watersports and tourism activities that The BTA can spend more of its focus supporting, for tourists of all ages.

This ‘Shelly Bay energy’ can be expended to ensure that Bermudian students are employed over overseas ‘interns’ that some companies prefer to engage; and that the Bermudian students are compensated and treated fairly, and that Bermudians can participate more fully in the tourism business as a whole.

In the case of Shelly Bay; the BTA Vision Plan, as well as Mr. Jones and Mr. Dallas, ignore the appreciation that should be acknowledged for Bermudians and for visitors who wish to go to just a regular ‘real Bermuda Beach’ for a regular ‘real’ Bermudian picnic. Together, Mr. Dallas and Mr. Jones undervalue the community spirit, the family traditions, the cultural practice and ambassadorship already established at Shelly Bay as they aim to appropriate, gentrify and commercialize that venue.

The concerns of the regular attendees at Shelly Bay are falling on deaf and unempathetic ears and there seems to be a disconnect from and disrespect, by The BTA, for experienced residents from all walks of life who love Shelly Bay just the way it is.

The community, however, in the spirit of progress and change and; in respect for residents and visitors and potential visitors of Shelly Bay do request, from The Bermuda Government, a plan to provide and maintain toilet and shower facilities, re-establish the access to the beach for the physically challenged and regular maintenance of the playground equipment. All of these will provide jobs and are not in the gentrified and commercialized BTA Vision.

The community of Shelly Bay beachgoers have no problem with The BTAs Beach Vision Plan. We do, however have a major problem with the designation of Shelly Bay Beach as one of the 5 beaches to be used for this plan and feel that Shelly Bay Beach, because of its unique status, should be removed from their designation.

Is it too much to ask for one popular, free, safe, convenient, enjoyable beach…the only option some persons have and the option that some people prefer… to be left alone?

Sincerely,

- Cheryl-Ann Griffin on behalf of Shelly Bay ‘Dissenters’

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Comments (23)

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  1. TJ says:

    Bermuda filled with naysayers…and this is an example. Let us try it and if it’s a detriment to the area, then by all means, cease operations and restore it. A lot of what has been said above is ridiculous…dessimate fish stock and therefore making snorkeling mundane? Smh

    Hope this plan goes through.

    • Thats like saying we know drinking and smoking is harmful, but lets just try it and if its a detriment to our health we’ll just stop and restore our health.

      • TJ says:

        Apples to oranges. These decisions could be reversed if its deemed a detriment. Smoking and drinking is bad for us, yet we still do it. Go figure. People are so afraid of change

      • C.Griffin says:

        This statement was from an article in The Bermudian Magazine.

        • Shelly Bay Resident says:

          Shelly Bay is by law a fish hatchery, a safe place for adult fish to breed and a nursery school for juvenile fish to mature. By law, activity in Shelly Bay is supposed to be minimal and regulated to protect the species of fish. Ask anyone who enjoyed Shelly Bay in the 60s and they’ll tell you how many fish were in the bay. Shelly Bay has been abused for years but bus the tourists in at high quantities and there goes your marine life in totality.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. The naysayers are acting like they won’t have access to the beach anymore or something. All this will be are a few pop up stands that can/will promptly be removed if the business doesn’t work out.

  2. William G says:

    Having visited a lot of beaches in the Caribbean, these “entrenepeurs” are nothing but a nuisance selling their goods. Not really what we want at Shelly Bay

    • Wondering says:

      Ms Griffin is stuck in the 1800s. People will not be walking around selling things. And so what if they were. You won’t be their target audience.

      Like Oprah said, some ideology has to die literally.

  3. Realist says:

    Ms. Griffin, your concerns about preserving the Shelley Bay Beach for families, schools, community use are good, but have you had a real good look at Shelley Bay lately. It’s a mess in terms of aesthetics. I can agree that anything that goes there should be kept at a minimum as the beach isn’t that big and is really shallow. It is perfect for leisurely sunbathing and kid friendly activities. Nothing more like what we se at Horseshoe Bay. Shelley Bay is in desperate need of modern and clean That need alone should be what the Dissenters be putting their energy in lobbying for as a basic for Shelley Bay. A public, popular beach as Shelley Bay should have bathroom facilities. If this Government were about anything at all, that is some thing they can tender out to a private construction firm and have the cleaning of the bathrooms also put out to a private business. Make the lease contingent on exemplary reports of cleanliness of the bathroom facilities year over year. Lobby for that and not the proposals of the BTA which are not ideal for that beach.

  4. puzzled says:

    Gives a new meaning to Onion Soup.

    Build some toilets on stilts and ……………………..never mind.

  5. Sorry Sir says:

    I don’t really have too much of an issue with commercializing some of our beaches.

    I really think Shelly Bay should remain a family beach.

    However. What I don’t like is individuals profiting on these commercialized beaches. This is government land and therefore they should be trying to get profit from these. Why privatize it?

    Create a new Government department (Maybe call it the ministry of Business Ventures or something) and have a small department that manages multiple properties, all the while collecting profit from these properties.

    Get someone who is business savvy and make some money. The money collected can help clean up the beaches, help with adequate lifeguards, etc.

  6. C.Griffin says:

    As you can read in my letter, we are asking for bathrooms, handicap access and proper maintenance of the playground.

    • What?? says:

      You want to keep the beach for you and your friends then you and your friends can pay for those bathrooms!

      • Rocky5 says:

        Damn tourist (& expats)! If they’d just stay in their ships, Hotels & Airbnbs & leave our beaches for Bermudians what a magical place it would be, poor, BUT magical

  7. frank says:

    leave shelly bay beach alone
    there is lots of room on the south shore beaches for more concessions to be set up

  8. Honestly says:

    Not sure why this has been a big issue with neighbors. I remember when the r wtauranta were open at SB it was nice. Unfortunate it didn’t work out but let’s see who can be successful servicing the locals and tourists alike while enjoying SB. Clean it up and get rid of the sandy area near road if nothing is going to be placed there. Grass would’ve been visiable by now. Come on Bermuda…it’s not that deep.!

  9. Varied says:

    I disagree on the idea that Shelley beach be a vendor-free location. This beach had concessions for a long time, problem is the facility fell into disrepair and despite a few vendors trying to make something out of it, including Yardie Kitchn and a place that sold Chinese food, the lack of clean showers and changing rooms and restrooms doomed any attempt to revitalize.

    This doesn’t have to be the “community” vs BTA, no reason govt and BTA can’t have a plan that is appropriate for the area, encourages visitors and enhances the beach experience for locals too. Doesn’t have to be like a tobacco Bay but should not just be left as a bare plot of dirt in the name of preservation.

  10. Kevin says:

    Mr Burgess needs to get out of the 60′s ” we only got this beach back in the 60″s …are you serious another dinosaur that needs to go …lets start moving in a “progressive manner” Burt you have little tin soldiers standing in the way of progress ..the bets statement I heard was” the people are willing to do anything to stop this” wow and you wonder why we are currently in this position
    Economically
    Politically
    Racially
    We are in a tail spin in a plane and the captain is shouting ladies and gentlemen put your head between your knees and kiss your ………………………

  11. Çharlly X says:

    The. Beautiful Beach should not be inundated with Service providers . The human toal on the environment is hard to replace. And BTA means commercialism

  12. BermudianLova says:

    Let the guy that was going to open up a small restaurant have his permit back. He had a great plan. Containers on the beach is dopey, and ugly. Also look at Tobacco bay, just disgusting there, so messy, that is not what we want Shelly Bay to turn into.

  13. Shelly Bay says:

    I live across the street and would love a place to get food at Shelly Bay with my kids. What’s the big deal?

    • Varied says:

      None at all, frankly. Some people seem to fear it’ll get the Snorkel Park treatment just because the idea of a concessions area is floated… as though Shelley Bay never had it in the past

  14. Micro says:

    The reality is the beach will remain as it is for the most part. It’s essentially unused during the week when you’d expect the most visitors. Negates the whole idea of the beach being overcrowded. Shelly Bay is ideal for older persons and visitors with young children looking for a quiet calm beach to relax on and the BTA would do well to market the beach as just that. The vast majority of visitors will continue to overcrowd Horseshoe and Tobacco Bay.

    Really can’t see how anyone could have an issue with setting up a new and proper concession, emphasis on proper; don’t need another half run down setup. Snorkel gear, paddle boats, local music, local cuisine, guided tours; all sound like good ideas to me.

    I would like to see Clearwater given more attention as well.

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