One of Montego Bay’s most popular beaches and night spots, the Aquasol Beach Park, was closed on Wednesday, sparking a legal battle between the Urban Development Corporation and the lessees of the facility, Carlyle Allen and Raymond Kerr.
The UDC, in a statement, indicated that the temporary closure will facilitate the rehabilitation of the beach park, improvement of service delivery and bringing its recreational facilities on par with global standards of service.
The Corporation also said it was undertaking repair work to groynes along the Montego Bay waterfront to assist in the protection of the ecosystems and to prevent flooding along the central business district.
A lawsuit was filed in the St. James Parish Court on Thursday by the lessees’ Attorney, Jennifer Messado, who argued that while the lease agreement between the UDC and messrs, Allen and Kerr for the operation of the Aquasol Beach Park ended in April this year, they were not formally served notice or given a timeline by the UDC to vacate and quit the premises. Allen has been operating the facility for the past ten years.
“We are hoping that they will make a settlement that will allow us a chance to make a bid for the extension of the lease and at least an orderly exit if we don’t get such a chance,” Messado explained.
Messado said the situation is untenable as her clients cannot gain access to their resources at the facility and sub-tenants are also being made to suffer.
“We employee 57 persons and they are now out of jobs. They have families, how will they deal with that? So, we are waiting on the court to decide what’s next.”
Meanwhile, former Mayor of Montego Bay, Senator Charles Sinclair has raised concerns with the temporary closure of the popular Aquasol Beach Park, expressing fear that the facility could be wrested from the public domain and placed into private hands, based on historical precedent.
“What I am going to be watching for is that when this refurbishing, renovation takes place that we do not hear that Aquasol is going to move from being a public facility, one that the public has access to, into private development where the public is going to be locked out,” Sinclair explained. “That is something that I will not sit and watch because I think that St. James has lost all its beaches, places that locals or visitors could go to enjoy good beach facilities or so forth have been losing them.”
“We have lost Damali Beach, lost Cornwall Beach, we have very few public facilities to look forward to and I cannot sit and watch that happen to another of those facilities,” the former mayor declared.
“Our locals may have to jump off cliffs to access the sea. We are an island state so we love going to the beach and have proper facilities. It is a concern I have so I will be watching this one carefully as it moves forward,” he concluded.