I believe we can build a Boardwalk along a section of the coastline of our historical city, Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. While we work collectively to attract more visitors and returning nationals to the Gem of the Antilles, the development of our tourism product needs an injection of creativity. One possibility that I think is often overlooked is the idea of a Kingstown Boardwalk.
The concept of a boardwalk has long moved from the incubator stage of my creative thoughts and finally, I have opted to share my views for public consideration. Admittedly, the idea became much clearer and even more relevant, to me, as I listened to Hon. Senator Julian Francis on Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 during his Star FM Radio program.
During that broadcast, Francis who holds responsibility for the Ministry of Transport and Works expressed the political will to finally tackle the vexing street vendor situation in capital Kingstown. Although I have some ideas of my own about improving the management of informal vending activity around our nation’s capital, I would use this article to focus on a solution based idea that could lead us to a new gold standard to redefine how we design and manage the use of public spaces for all forms of business, recreational and related activities in Kingstown.
I would further submit that this proposal was not conceived in isolation. I am anticipating the refurbishment of several areas in Kingstown, especially in light of the announcement by Senator Francis. Much needed upgrade in areas such as Little Tokyo and other commercial spaces in close proximity to the Kingstown Fish Market have all dominated my thoughts as I considered some of the steps we can take to further develop our capital.
Meanwhile, in the absence of an architectural design, environmental impact assessment and the estimated cost of constructing this project that could be one on a phased basis, I am submitting this concept for public consideration, recommendation or even outright rejection. After all, the Transport and Works Minister did say he has started a conversation. This article embodies my submission to that national conversation.
I visualise the Kingstown Boardwalk stretching from just beyond the eastern end of the Government’s main Administrative (Financial) Complex on Bay Street, running westward along the harbour and ends in the area of the Agriculture Input Warehouse, just before the site earmarked for the proposed new commercial pier facility in Rose Place, Kingstown.
I confidently propose that the Boardwalk will add more character to the shoreline of our capital. Furthermore, I have long observed that previous planners of infrastructural development in Kingstown have restricted their design view to an inward looking perspective and seldom if ever, an outward view that encapsulates the tranquil seascape of our main harbour.
The Kingstown Harbor, therefore, is a hidden gem of the city’s landscape, instead of it being a complementary feature of the layout and life of the city. It should come as no surprise that our waterfront is often used for ‘back yard purposes’. If you’ve never given this any consideration, take a look at the area from between the makeshift stalls along the coastline in Little Tokyo or the sea wall of the main car park next to the Financial Complex.
A Kingstown Boardwalk, I humbly submit, would provide a commercial strip that guarantees the space for a limited number of small and medium-sized kiosks to add more diversity to the recreational spaces in Kingstown, but this time, in full view of the ocean.
This project promises to revitalise Kingstown. Our watery gateway will appear more aesthetically pleasing to incoming vessels and a welcoming reminder for seafarers making their way onto to the oceanic highway. This new business environment would not be confined to the bricks and mortar model of infrastructural development.
Moreover, according to nbcsvg.com, “the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has begun gathering funds to begin building what it says will be the biggest and most modernise port in the OECS.
The project will cost about 100 million US dollars with 40 percent of the funding for construction coming from the United Kingdom infrastructural development fund, another 40 percent of the funding will come from the Caribbean Development Bank and the remaining 20 percent coming from the World Bank, Minister of Economic Planning Camillo Gonsalves said.
Officials hope that the new port will not only transform Kingstown but also put the country in good stead to compete for regional business, especially with neighbouring islands, Minister Gonsalves said.”
Caribbean nations have had to upgrade existing port facilities, especially in light of the need to better accommodate the mega-sized cruise ships and larger sized cargo vessels berthing in our waters. This further adds credence to my call for us to build a Kingstown Boardwalk. The fact that we will be spending US$100 million to upgrade our port facilities in Kingstown gives me every confidence that we can incorporate the Boardwalk into that mega project. Furthermore, I am of the view that the Government’s main Administrative (Financial) Complex in Kingstown should have been built much closer to Bay Street.
In my view, doing so would have left adequate space along the coastline to make it even easier for this proposed Boardwalk facility, and even another roadway to reconnect with Little Tokyo and continue westward. The coming on stream of the Kingstown Port redevelopment paves the way for us as a nation to make the best possible choices that would inevitably lead to solutions that would alleviate traffic congestion in the city, make room for green spaces in addition to opening up more spaces for commercial and recreational activities.
More than a walkway, I envision that the Kingstown Boardwalk would blossom into a beehive of activity, sparking an entrepreneurial renaissance and breed new light life into our capital. The proposed Boardwalk will not merely be a place for the sale of goods, a stage for our local artists to entertain patrons among other services. Apart from helping to beautify Kingstown, the area would be a melting pot seasoned with various facets of our diverse Vincentian culture.
The panoramic view of the Kingstown Harbor awaits the thousands who would visit for a casual walk with family and friends or just to spend some time along the shoreline to experience the calming effect of the ocean. The thoroughfare is very likely to create a nexus between recreational and business activities along the tranquil Kingstown harbour. From there would emerge new opportunities for tourism, agri-business and service oriented commerce.
Like other areas around Kingstown, I foresee that operations along the Boardwalk would be guided and managed by strict environmental regulations. Litter Wardens, I anticipate, would lead the way in the enforcement of the rules that prohibit destructive behaviours such as vandalism, littering, discharge of untreated waste water or dumping of hazardous materials of any kind into the sea along the waterfront.
I don’t think this notion is just a figment of my own imagination. Optimistically, this is a shared vision that thousands of other Vincentians have either entertained at one stage or another or would gladly embrace once asked to give it some consideration. We are blessed with a land flowing with natural and homegrown wealth. Let’s make even more adequate use of our scarce resources. Let’s build the Kingstown Boardwalk.
By Sean Rose Communications Consultant