Sunday, June 23, 2024

Area Representative weighs in on issue with seawalls

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The announcement of an 800-foot seawall project for the luxurious beach resort Alaia south of San Pedro Town surprised many and raised concerns within the conservation community. While some believe it could severely alter the coastline and the beach, the Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez, said there are justifiable reasons for it.

Alaia’s seawall project

He shared with the media that this popular beach area, known as Mar de Tumbo, is constantly affected by erosion and the heavy influx of seasonal Sargassum. Perez said there is a break in the reef in front of the beach resort, which adds to the beach alteration, and thinks that perhaps the only option now is a seawall.

Honourable Andre Perez

The project reportedly has the required permits from the Ministry of Natural Resources departments. Perez said they cannot intervene once all requirements are met. “For us to look at it and completely condemn it and say no, we cannot do that. We are elected officials to work along with developers,” said Perez. “When they approached us, we told them that it was important to follow the procedures that the laws of the land demand.” He said once they have everything in place with the Department of Environment and other departments within the Ministry of Natural Resources, like Mining, they cannot intervene. “Once all that is in place, I do not see why I cannot support it,” Perez noted. The Area Representative added that although this project is taking place in front of a multi-millionaire investment, the beach remains a public area, and anyone can walk through it by law.
A press release from Alaia said the project is commencing in May and extending through November of this year. The official note added that the seawall construction will usher in a new era of opulence and leisure for their esteemed guests.

Similar seawall issues
Another case involving a seawall is a project in downtown San Pedro. A seawall was reinforced, and a structure is being erected on the beach in front of a hotel that will soon open. The construction activity even forced some beach vendors to relocate. Local authorities again did not intervene as they indicated that such projects have the green light from the respective departments of the Ministry of Natural Resources. In interviews, Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez has said that intervening can lead to a lawsuit from the developer because they have been granted permits from the government for their project.
This issue with seawall buildings in San Pedro is not new; more beachfront property owners have recently followed this practice. Those in conservation maintain that such structures cause more damage to the beaches instead of alleviating erosion and that eco-appropriate methods exist to remedy the problem.

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