I'd like to share some general thoughts on piers, and some specific comments on residential piers in areas outside the town itself where road access ranges from dubious to impossible.
PLANS AND PROGRAMS ------- I agree that chock-ablock pier after pier is not so pretty ......... but don't the people of this island deserve some input on a plan. How can it hurt anything to listen to people express their ideas on how to make it work better and to share the impact of a general decision on their own lives. Public vetting of such a major plan might just yield good ideas. We will always need and probably always have some piers, so let's not suddenly decide that they are something horrible.
SWIMMING and piers - there is little if any shore-swimming available along the shores of the caye. Water is shallow and seabottom in most places is either:
1. seagrass which provides fish habitat
2. grungy silt that swallows your feet and legs.
The old style pier with kraal was a safe and protected way for people to get in the water, and stay away from boats. A kraal was an integral part of a pier and something people appreciated and enjoyed. Look at the folks who get in the water in town or anyplace else ---- where there is a swimmer-friendly pier, that is where they swim. The only other deep water area is the river which is an accident waiting to happen.
DISTANCE BETWEEN PIERS
In town --- I am not sure what (if any) provision exists for recommended distances between piers in town - it would appear that nobody has made(or enforced) any real plan, and that a plan would benefit everybody. Somehow I think it would benefit the people of this island to be able to discuss and understand a proposal before it is slammed down on them. Autocratic decision making on this kind of sweeping level is not good for anybody.
It is also strange to me to see that the the idea is to get rid of piers on the east side for environmental reasons, and then to have MORE of them on the west side where we have mangroves and all those great old tarpon. The access to the lagoon in back is via the river which is already barly able to handle it's traffic load safely....... what about that and what is essentialy a one-lane passage under the bridge?
Outlying residential areas - at one time the allowable space between piers in residential areas was 1,500 feet. That was 15 years ago. Seems to me that the present recommendation for 300 feet is a bit close but that is a done deal and is at least a place to start.
REALISE THAT IN MANY AREAS, PIERS ARE NOT A LUXURY THEY ARE A NECESSITY AND THE PEOPLE WHO BUILD THEM ARE PAYING FOR SOMETHING THAT THE GENERAL PUBLIC USES AND BENEFITS FROM ......
This is an island and it is a water-based society. There is a need for piers in a water-based society. Given the lack of roads in many areas, and the impassibility of the few that exist outside the town core, a pier is not a luxury as some would suggest, but is a necessity for safety and daily life.
SAFETY - If you are injured do you really propose that a person ride 5 or even 10 miles in a golf cart to town?!
SAFETY - Ask yourself if you lived 4 or 6 miles outside of San Pedro TODAY - not some mythical time when some mythical plan for a better island is formulated ...........but now and in the forseeable furture - do we realy believe that it is safe to be riding a dirt track through brush at night(and in some areas even in the day) with no lights, no services, no police nearby.......How many muggings have you heard of on the Island Ferry or on a water taxi?? None that I know of.
SAFETY - try getting off this island when a hurricane threatens - we are dead ducks without boats and we need a place to keep them -------- we need a place to keep them where we can see them so as to take proper care of them, including protecting them from theft.
SAFETY - Didn't we just hear from the police that they need boats to serve outlying areas because land transportation does not provide ready access.
Pier fees, fine. Make them reasonable.
Then enforce the distances between piers according to a sensible and sustainable plan. Then enforce the permit conditions.
The language in residential permits varies, but essentially the message is that you are licensed to use the seabed for a pier under these conditions:
1. build a pier at your cost insuring that it does not cause a safety or navigation hazzard - fair enough
2. insure & maintain it at your cost - fair enough
3. allow access to the public for deliveries and recreational activities, to leave open the entire north side for public parking ........
the provisions above are an interesting way to balance needs and expenditures and to encourage private parties to provide public benefit and the idea of neighbors sharing and working together --- but NOT if the fees to do so are at the level being noted in the recent press release.
In this case the announced fees for residential piers DO NOT reflect the benefits to the individual who is essentially providing a NECESSARY service as part of their receiving a permit.
If we have selfish people building spaces from which they exclude reasonable access, we already have permit clauses that say they are in violation of the permit. Charging them more is not going to encourage compliance ---- it is just going to create an even more adversarial situation where we all loose.