Proposal for East Beach parking lot draws huge reader response
TALK of the Town’s latest question to Facebook readers asking for their thoughts on a proposal to remove dunes and dune vegetation at East Beach to create a large parking lot drew an incredible response, with more comments than on any other question we have posted.
The proposal arose in a meeting of the Ward 10 committee for sport and recreation, with the motivation being that the current two parking lots at the beach were too small and opening up the area between them to create a larger parking lot would allow for better access to the beach during peak season and special events.
Gareth Mitchell opened the dialogue, saying: “Terrible idea. The natural beauty is what makes East Beach so special. Much better idea to knock down one or two of those seldom occupied houses on the Marina for more parking space.”
Adele Fivaz Steck asked: “Was an environmental impact study done?” Her concern was echoed by Terri Elkonin Harrewyn.
Nigel Alfred Jopson commented, “But they can’t even maintain the parking lot by the dunes properly! Covered with sand and pool of stagnant water there last weekend.”
Linda-Marie Pienaar lamented: “All the natural beauty that attracted us to Port Alfred is systematically being destroyed. Will we enjoy the view of a parking lot more than natural vegetation? And will we not just be creating another area to be policed and trashed during peak season?”
Some members of the community are more willing to entertain the thought than others, with
Marianne Verschoor feeling that if something like that were to be done, other things could also be done to enhance the area, such as a boardwalk, lookout deck and rebuilding and maintaining the public toilets, which she said were in a disgraceful condition. Verschoor’s views were supported by Steck and
Jaco van Rensberg, who was even more enthusiastic about the parking idea, saying: “I think it is a great idea! Parking is an issue and it is keeping people from going to the beach. A bigger, safer parking lot will benefit all in the long run.”
Lizette Zeelie said: “I agree. We need more space at the beach. West Beach overcrowded in season.” There were far more naysayers though.
Neil Playdon said: “If the current car parks cannot be maintained throughout the year, then what is the point? The sand is never controlled and we are left with ¾ of the car park unusable. So much could be done with the existing car parks to upgrade them that I can’t see the point of this new idea.” Pete Du Toit called the idea “ghastly”, saying: “Plenty of space for parking down the road leading to East Beach for anyone prepared to walk a few metres. It would never be maintained and would serve no purpose whatsoever for 11.5 months of a year. It would also destroy the beauty of the place.”
Justin Bowles said: “Don’t do it, but I am sure it will be done. It will spoil Port Alfred’s ‘small feel’ and further impact negatively on the town’s character and the reason why people visit Port Alfred and buy property there. Will look like King’s Beach in PE. The West Beach is already a dump with a big parking lot, people drinking in their cars, playing loud music, breaking glass, a gambling spot, a restaurant in dire need of a clean-up and revamp. Then there’s Kelly’s Beach that also has a parking lot. How big a parking lot does the municipality want to create?”
Elaine Wigg Waters said: “Leave as is; no proper management is ever maintained no matter what stupid idea surfaces. Will have tons more sand blowing and you can’t control moving sand.”
Verona Veltman feels it is “not a good idea to remove dunes. Just cause further damage somewhere else. The winds naturally deposit the sand and the vegetation stabilises the dunes. Just not a sound proposal.” Charmaine Lees Steyn gave an adamant “NO!!! Leave the dunes alone, please”, while Michelle Strugnell chimed: “No, the dunes are stunning and even when we go there (in peak season) we always find parking. Would be a waste of money.” Lucille Parkins said: “No I think it’s a terrible idea. Maintain what is already in place.”