Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Beach off limits

Beach off limits. It's not allowed to enter the Katwijk beach area right in front of the town this winter. The entire beach will be moved 100 meters west, into the North Sea, and a new artificial dune, with a dike constructed under, will be created in that area. All beach restaurants have been removed. Reason: the Katwijk coast is too vulnerable if you take the rise of the sea level and expected severe storms as a result of climate change in account. 

If the Katwijk coast would collapse, an area where one million people live may be floaded. This is a national project of course, not something that is implemented by the Katwijk town council. The beach and the dunes are not Katwijk's own domain - they are the responsibility of what in the USA would be the US Corps of Engeneers and the National Forest Service.

Katwijk makes use of this project to build a new underground car park for 700 vehicles. The entire project will cost € 29 million. There's a considerable downside: you won't be able to see the North Sea anymore from the seaside Boulevard, but there will be a pedestrian trail over the new dune, so that you can see the ocean from there. There are people who want to hold on to the current situation, because sentiments over how the Katwijk beach should look are important to them. But I don't mind. The Katwijk seaside Boulevard is not the best business card for our town, and for a defining facade you should expect something better. Architecture is horrid, as a result of money driven development plans, influenced by a conservative view on Katwijk's tourism based economy in the early 1950s. During 1942 and 1943 all structures along this Boulevard, apart from a few landmarks such as the Old Church, were demolished by ordenance of the Nazi occupiers, up to 200 meters from the beach. Gone were the many Victorian hotels with their beautiful porches and facades. And they never returned after 1945. Brick attached homes, as if they were built from a box of Lego stones and designed by a six year old, came to dominate the most important recreational area in this town.

In later years the Boulevard suffered from the growing number of cars, while in recent years speed cyclists added terror to motorists and pedestrians alike. Never had our town council the refreshing thought to make it a one way road. The Boulevard is not a place I'd like to spend a nice summer's day. And why should I? Too many cars, too many people, and only a handful of third rate restaurants. All in all, a symphony of missed oppertunities.

I'm looking forward to see how the new beach will look. An extra dune of 100 meter should create a more natural environment, and a much needed distance from the crowded Boulevard. The less you sense its presence, the better it will be. I remember visiting Tybee Island beach in Georgia, and how wonderful it was that you had to walk some 100 meters through a dune area to get to the ocean, as this photo shows >

April 1, 2014, the beach and the wooden pavillion restaurants will open again.

No comments:

Post a Comment