A line in the Sand

Winfred Beach, Portland Jamaica.

Winifred Beach is not the easiest spot to find but it is well worth the effort. It requires keeping a sharp eye out when travelling east out of Port Antonia to take the correct left turn that will take you into a housing area. After that with a little more faith that you are going in the right direction  you will take a very  rough (understatement) road going downhill,  for  a while the vegetation blocks any view of the sought after shore line, leaving you to ask the  first person you see, if this is indeed the beach.

 

It really is and concerns about the journey or the front end of your vehicle melt away when you finally arrive at this serene spot. The Rough Guide to Jamaica notes it was one of the settings for the film Club Paradise and describes it as one of the most “appealing beaches in all of Jamaica.”

However, it looks like a line may be drawn in the sand both physically and metaphorically. There is a fight on in regards to the future of the beach. Over simply put, on one side those who want to keep the beach free and on the other the Urban Development Corporation which wants to develop it.

 In a letter to the Jamaica Observer newspaper, The Free Winifred Beach group says it’s not against development but stresses it wants  the property to remain a “public beach and prevent non sustainable development that will prevent Jamaicans and visitors from using the beach.”

Read more at: http://www.free-winnifred.com/

The letter was written in a response to an article in the Sunday Observer of October 2 2011, and in it the group says,

 “Our only motive is to ensure that Winifred Beach is a place where rich and poor alike can enjoy one of Jamaica”

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/Rich-and-poor-will-enjoy-Winnifred-Beach_9863866

The UDC was set up in 1968 and according to its website, since then it has,

“…..significantly improved the coverage and quality of public infrastructure, in addition to introducing alternative patterns of urban settlement, including creative shelter solutions and the development of new townships.”

 

  The UDC Website says that Winifred beach is part of the Fairy Hill property in Portland that the UDC got in 1976.

 Read more: http://www.udcja.com/projects_frame.htm

  The UDC says a plan to include public beach, agriculture land, site and services and community space has been created and the organization is looking at phased development for the beach.

According to Jamaica Information Service in 2004 the UDC announced plans to upgrade the Winifred public beach in Fairy Hill Portland.

  The Free Winifred Beach group points to the Beaches act it says states that if the beach is not owned uninterrupted for twenty years it cannot be privatized the organization is asking for help to raise the money to make the case and keep the beach free.

The issue may end up on the back burner for a while,  overshadowed by the  concerns  raised by the Office of the Contractor General,  over UDC operations, and an investigation into the agency that’s been ordered by the board.

This may, at least for now hand the Free Winifred Beach group an advantage

and a chance for people to experience the beach as it is for a little while longer.

 

 

 

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