NORCECA athletes competed while work continued
As the athletes sent sand flying and emotions soaring at last month’s NORCECA Beach Volleyball Tournament, the Decco team was hard at work behind nearby construction fencing to complete the first phase of a US$3 million project to enhance the recreational areas at Seven Mile Public Beach.
The project, which will occur in three phases, is expected to reach completion by the fourth quarter of this year.
Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture & Lands Juliana O’Connor-Connolly explained that the project is being undertaken by Decco on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government.
“The ongoing improvement works on Seven Mile Public Beach were included in the Third Amendment to the National Roads Authority Agreement between the Cayman Islands Government and Dart,” she said. “Once complete, these upgrades will greatly enhance the experience for all visitors to Seven Mile Public Beach.”
Nicholas Forari Denney, design manager of landscape architecture at Decco, said the design drivers included paths, nodes and thresholds, which clearly define Public Beach and offer users a myriad of new activities. Woven throughout the new landscaping are native plants, accessible paths and facilities, locally inspired architecture by John Doak Architecture and organised spaces for vendors.
The first phase includes connectivity improvements at the south of the site, a zone for vendor huts and the construction of a new, accessible restroom cabana. The existing Mobi-Mat, a beach access ramp, remains a key feature of the site and the design team expect the addition of special needs adult changing tables to enhance beach access for people with disabilities.
“We are hopeful that, when NORCECA returns next year to Grand Cayman, the players, officials and spectators will have a greatly enhanced experience at a Seven Mile Public Beach that has been designed for people of all abilities, ages and interests to enjoy,” Denney said.
Throughout the process, Decco worked closely with multiple stakeholders to design an inclusive beach experience, including the Cayman Islands Government, the Cayman Islands Football Association, the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation and the National Council for Persons with Disabilities.
Commenting on the enhancements, Minister for Commerce, Planning & Infrastructure Joey Hew said: “These upgrades will benefit residents and visitors alike by providing designated spaces for local businesses to operate, new restroom facilities to make the beach accessible for persons of all abilities and additional landscaping to provide more public green space and shade for our community to enjoy.”
Now that the 2019 NORCECA Beach Volleyball Tournament is over, improvement works will begin on the existing volleyball courts. Additional plantings will be added and seat walls will be constructed along the site perimeter, offering seating and shade for future spectators.
“Throughout the design, our team focused on providing adaptable spaces,” Denney said. “For instance, the walls are curved and adjacent to key site features, so people can sit on either side and watch the volleyball games or keep an eye on their children as they enjoy the playground facilities. All of the new features were designed for double or even triple use to ensure we are providing the highest and best use of the space.”
The second phase of construction will also see the addition of new walking paths around the existing children’s playground, while the final construction phase will focus on upgrades to the existing parking area.
Access to the Mobi-mat will be maintained throughout the project and the public will still be able to access and book the beach cabanas. Improvements to the existing restrooms are planned for a later date in the project and will commence only once the new restrooms are complete.
After a year’s hiatus, NORCECA — which stands for the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation — returned to the Cayman Islands with one of its beach volleyball tour competitions, bringing 15 teams from across the Caribbean and North America to the white sand of Seven Mile Public Beach.
Dart continued its support of this year’s tournament as a presenting partner. Dart Executive Vice President for Marketing Pilar Bush said sponsorship of NORCECA aligns with Dart’s commitment to the sustainable economic development of the Cayman Islands.
“Sport has an important role to play in both youth development and the diversification of the Cayman Islands’ tourism product,” she said.
“With a range of first-class facilities, the Cayman Islands provides the ideal setting for high-profile sporting events.”