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Beach Access and Real Estate Values

No one disputes the fact or argues with the concept that all beaches on Anguilla are and should remain public property. However, when one begins to consider the options available for getting to those public beaches there is need to pause, reflect and plan.

When I moved to Anguilla some seventeen years ago, consideration of the issue of beach access did not exist in so far as the property surrounding the beaches had seen only minimal development, we all had maximum access. However, times do change.

I am aware enough of my own feeling to know that I personally feel uncomfortable about going to some of Anguilla's beaches and am conncerned that my daughter may grow up to find that discomfort magnified. While I do not believe anyone is intentionally trying to "privatize" Anguilla's beaches, I do believe than an encroaching discomfort with regard to beach access, may have that effect.

The remedy to combat this notion of encroaching privatization resulting from inadequate access is -- quite simply -- to create additional access via routes and paths, clearly defined and easily identified. Such a project should be undertaken island wide, whereby properly located beach access routes should be established to every major beach.

These routes should be located along lines which would minimize any potential negative economic impact, and maximize public enjoyment and use. They should have clearly defined car parking facilities, changing rooms, toilet facilites, trash containers, etc. -- for cars, naked bodies, waste and garbage must be kept off the beaches. In fact, all of these elements (and others) should be incorporated into the route design for by all means these routes should be "designed".

As our beaches are our greatest natural resource, so should their access routes be of a wold class standard. Facilities should be designed with respect for Anguilla's traditional methods of concept and construction, our historic wooden buildings and boats should guide the process of creating a uniquely Anguillian/West Indian approach to our sandy coast. None of this need be expensive -- just creative.

With regard to the rationale -- quite quickly, two fold -- one moral, one economic. The moral speaks for itself -- if the public is entitled to enjoy the beaches, the public must be entitled to access those beaches. The economic is also quite clear: for those of us who live here -- belonger and non-belonger alike -- unless we live on the beach, our real estate values are increased by having excellent access to those beaches.

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